"We plan to appeal the length of the suspensions," says Dick Baddour, North Carolina Director of Athletics. "While I respect the NCAA process, I believe the penalties to be unduly harsh given the individual circumstances in these cases."
Burney, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound cornerback from Jacksonville, N.C., was tabbed a 2010 second-team Preseason All-America by Sporting News and a 2010 Thorpe Award candidate after earning first-team All-ACC honors in '09 for totaling 47 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, five interceptions, one interception return for touchdown and one fumble recovery. Burney ranks 13th all-time at UNC with nine career interceptions.
Williams, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound cornerback from Jacksonville, N.C., was tabbed a 2010 third-team Preseason All-America by Sporting News and a 2010 Nagurski/Thorpe/Lott Award candidate after earning first-team All-ACC honors in '09 for totaling 47 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions and eight pass breakups.
The university declared both student-athletes ineligible for violations of NCAA agent benefits and preferential treatment rules. According to the facts of the case submitted by the university, these benefits in part included trips to California, Atlanta and Las Vegas for Burney and two trips to California for Williams. The majority of the benefits Burney received were from an individual who meets the NCAA definition of an agent. According to NCAA rules, an agent is any individual who markets or promotes a student-athlete. The majority of Williams' benefits were preferential treatment violations associated with visiting a former North Carolina football student-athlete.
When a school discovers a student-athlete has been involved in an NCAA rules violation, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete's eligibility be reinstated to the NCAA national office staff for consideration. Reinstatement decisions are made independently of any NCAA enforcement process.
During the reinstatement process, NCAA staff review each case on its own merits based on the specific facts. Staff decisions are made based on a number of factors including guidelines established by the Division I NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, the student-athlete's responsibility for the violation, as well as any mitigating factors presented by the university.
The university can appeal the decision to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, an independent panel comprised of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences. This committee can reduce or remove the condition, but it cannot increase the staff-imposed conditions. If appealed, the student-athlete remains ineligible until the conclusion of the appeals process.