How will the NCAA punish UNC? Here are the possibilities

Mark Armstrong Image
Friday, October 13, 2017
UNC investigation

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (WTVD) -- No one outside of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions (COI) knows what punishments are in store for UNC on Friday.

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But we can fairly guess they'll be more severe than originally thought back in 2015, when the original Notice of Allegations (NOA) was received.

Since then, a revised second NOA was sent to UNC, which looked kinder, then last October, COI boss David Sankey (also the SEC Commissioner) told NCAA investigators to go back and beef up the allegations. That led to a third NOA alleging impermissible benefits and lack of institutional control.

UNC faces a number of possible punishments, some they'd probably accept and others they'd fight tooth and nail.

This is mostly informed speculation, but I'd imagine UNC would be OK with:

  • Probation. Which is basically putting an athletic department in timeout and making them think about their mistakes and promise not to do them again (Remember, the NCAA's original punishment for UNC football's agent scandal was three years of probation, a postseason ban in 2012 and the loss of 15 scholarships during a three-year period).
  • A fine. Pay the money and move on.
  • Scholarship reductions. This again is a manageable penalty depending on which sports get dinged.

UNC would not be OK with:

  • Vacate wins (and potentially banners). The onus would be on the NCAA here to prove that UNC's tutoring system and suspect AFAM classes (the 'impermissible benefits' that are alleged) created ineligible players. Fielding an ineligible player would mandate forfeiting all games in which the player(s) participated.
  • Postseason ban. UNC football already went through this in 2012, missing out on a berth in the ACC Championship game and whatever subsequent bowl game that would've followed (They did famously get rings though). March success is the hallmark of the Carolina sports identity, so I'd imagine they'd fight hard against that discipline should it arrive.

If Carolina chooses to fight whatever punishments are meted out Friday, it has a couple of options. The first, through NCAA channels, is to appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee (IAC). They can do that in writing or in person. Any decision made by the IAC is final.

The other non-NCAA option? Take the whole mess to court and keep making the school's attorneys increasingly rich.