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UNC’s Reaction To The NCAA: Go To Heel

Prevaricate, obfuscate and irritate.

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NCAA Football: Duke at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC revealed its latest response to the NCAA’s most recent Notice of Allegations and as Luke DeCock details here, it’s more of the same. We’re just going to quote a passage because he sums it up really perfectly and we’re not sure anyone could put it much better:

“North Carolina’s response to the NCAA’s third Notice of Allegations, released Thursday, makes it clear that the university intends to fight the NCAA’s jurisdiction on every front.

“That’s the tone UNC took with its response to the second notice, back in August, and its resolve has only sharpened in this one, not only continuing to lodge objections over the NCAA’s ability to even bring the allegations, but going, at times, sentence by sentence to rebut the evidence offered.

“That’s where the divide continues to fall both inside and outside the halls of the NCAA, between those who believe the scandal at North Carolina had an impact on how competitive its athletic teams were (as the NCAA clearly does, based on the way the allegations were strengthened from the second notice to the third) and those who believe the scandal was merely academic by NCAA standards (as the university continues to posit, an echo of how it hid behind the Martin Report).

“The university even indulged in the trendy gambit of blaming the media...The blame is placed squarely on a ‘public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts’ for the trouble North Carolina is in with the NCAA.

“Presumably, that ‘public narrative’ includes statements like this one: ‘Many of these student-athletes were referred to these classes by academic counselors … (who) saw these classes – and their artificially high grades – as key to helping academically-challenged student-athletes remain eligible.’ That’s from the pen of potential future FBI director Kenneth Wainstein, on page 2 of a report the university all but disavows in this latest response to the NCAA.

“It remains a cynical defense, one predicated on legalese and semantics and technicalities and straw men (‘media accounts’), which is revealing because when it serves North Carolina’s purposes to be contrite, as the university was when the Wainstein Report was released or in negotiating with its academic accreditors, the university has no trouble being contrite. When the Wainstein Report is a complication, it tries to lawyer its way out from under it.

“Begging for forgiveness with one hand while slapping away the NCAA with the other, it makes you wonder whether the university, collectively, really feels any guilt at all for this cancer that rotted within for so long. Either way, the scandal remains an embarrassing stain on North Carolina’s reputation whether it technically violated NCAA bylaws or not.

“The NCAA believes it did. North Carolina refuses to entertain the notion.”

You know, we know good writing when we see it and that’s really well done. We’ve come to respect him since he’s been with the N&O but that really is outstanding work. At its finest journalism should, as the saying goes, comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable - or in this case, the cynically corrupt.

We can’t speak for the rest of the country but around here, most non-UNC fans are thoroughly disgusted and more than a few UNC fans are as well.

It’s possible that if UNC decides to take the NCAA to court that it might prevail, although the passage from the Weinstein Report tends to undercut the notion that no one did anything wrong (and we don’t know what the NCAA has either, which is something to keep in mind).

There are a lot of issues here we don’t fully understand not least of all the potential legal ramifications.

However, we tend to think back to the early 1960’s point shaving scandal which nearly burned UNC and NC State athletics to the ground and how UNC President William C. Friday handled that.

Friday had no qualms about cracking the whip on the basketball program. He parted ways with Frank McGuire, restricted recruiting, cut the schedule back to 14 games (from 25) and killed the Dixie Classic. He also hired Dean Smith and told him not to worry about winning but only to worry about running his program the right way.

None of this was popular, least of all killing off the Dixie Classic. You don’t have to talk to too many people who remember that to realize the loss.

But in retrospect, most people who lived through those days would probably tell you that not only was it the right and moral thing to do, but that UNC was better off for having had the courage to do it.

Today? There’s no Dr. Friday to save UNC from itself. The people who are running the university now are splitting hairs and arguing over how many angels can fit on the head of a. pin. They’re cynical and the only goal seems to be to carry on without paying any penalty at all. It’s all about evasion and getting off the hook.

For all we know, if this ends up in court, the NCAA could lose on many points. We’ll leave that to people who deal with the law.

Even if every other penalty was tossed out though there is one that we expect would stand up to any legal challenges and which would leave a lasting mark, and that’s simply to force UNC to forfeit any and every competition in which ineligible athletes participated.

It wouldn’t matter how or why they took the classes or who else took them. It’s a baseline, simple penalty and it would never go away.

As we’ve seen at Michigan, taking down banners focuses attention rather nicely.

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