Hear that? College sports fans across the Carolinas just breathed a huge sigh of relief. On Friday morning, the NCAA formally announced that it would not be taking any action against the University of North Carolina for allegedly offering fraudulent classes geared toward student athletes.
The most important aspect of the Committee On Infractions’ findings, or lack thereof, is that it was unable to conclude the “fake” classes in question were offered with the intent of enrolling student athletes alone.
“While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called ‘paper courses’ offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes,” Greg Sankey, the panel’s chief hearing officer said.
“While student-athletes likely benefited from the courses, so did the general student body. Additionally, the record did not establish that the university created and offered the courses as part of a systemic effort to benefit only student-athletes.”
Initial concerns were raised about course offerings from the university’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies in 2011. Both the football and basketball programs were implicated in the scandal, with the unusual transcript of former North Carolina defensive end and power forward Julius Peppers taking center stage. The NCAA was only able to find two clear-cut violations in this case: a lack of cooperation from the former department chair and former curriculum secretary.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell noted on Twitter that UNC paid nearly $18 million in legal fees throughout the investigative process.