WASHINGTON (WTVD) --Former UNC football player Devon Ramsay was front and center Wednesday afternoon at a U.S. Senate committee hearing on the well-being of college athletes. The hearing in Washington, D.C. focused on student-athletes and whether they're getting a chance at an education.
"The NCAA as an institution no longer protects the student athlete," Ramsay told the senate panel.
Ramsay was among 14 UNC players held out of part or all of the 2010-2011 season as the NCAA launched a lengthy investigation into allegations of plagiarism, tutors who violated rules, faculty who failed to provide oversight, alleged unethical conduct by an assistant coach, and allegations that players got perks from professional sports agents. Lawyer Robert Orr, a former N.C. Supreme Court justice, convinced the NCAA that Ramsay did nothing wrong, only asking for help on a draft of a three-page paper that resulted in only minor edits from the tutor. Ramsay was reinstated for the 2011 season but suffered a career-ending knee injury.
The University of North Carolina was "more concerned about protecting itself against violations and fines than protecting me," Ramsay said.
He also blasted the NCAA, calling for an oversight system to be put in place. "Allowing the NCAA to continue to intimidate schools and athletes is dangerous and unfair", according to Ramsay.
The NCAA found UNC was "responsible for multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation, and a failure to monitor its football program." Penalties imposed by the association included a one-year postseason ban, a reduction of 15 football scholarships, vacation of records, and three years' probation.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who led the panel discussion, said he hopes "the NCAA has the same goal as I do, to protect college athletes." He said college athletics "should be a means toward achieving academic excellence." "Universities are meant to serve students, not the other way around."
NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert told lawmakers, he agrees there are problems with academics, but says that's not the majority of athletes.
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