NOA: Next Step

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Now that North Carolina has finally received its notice of allegations from the NCAA, school officials can begin preparation for the Committee on Infractions hearing scheduled for Oct. 28, 2011.

Chancellor Holden Thorp, director of athletics Dick Baddour, head coach Butch Davis, faculty athletics representative Lissa Broome and director of compliance Amy Herman are all expected to attend the hearing in Indianapolis.

NCAA legislation states that a summary disposition – an informal meeting that takes the place of a hearing – is sometimes available, but Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach indicated in her notice of allegations letter to Thorp that a disposition "does not appear appropriate."

Responses from the institution and all involved parties must be on file by Sept. 19, 2011 with all 12 members of the Committee on Infractions, headed by Mid-Eastern Conference commissioner Dennis Thomas, and its administrator, Shepherd C. Cooper.

"We will gather the information the NCAA has requested and prepare to address the notice with the NCAA in the fall," Baddour said in a prepared release earlier this week. "We have a strong staff that will help get us through this and put us in a position where we will be a better athletic department as a result."

As described in the notice of allegations, if school officials don't believe that an allegation is "substantially correct" or that an allegation is "substantially correct" but is not complete or fully accurate, then any evidence supporting that claim must be submitted.

In separate letters to both former assistant coach John Blake and former tutor Jennifer Wiley, Lach highlights NCAA Bylaw 32.6.2 and writes that a "failure to respond to an allegation may be construed by the Committee of Infractions as an admission that the alleged violations occurred."

A failure to attend the hearing may result in a show-cause order by the committee, defined in legislation as the need to show why a penalty should not be imposed against a potential employer under NCAA jurisdiction if it does not take appropriate disciplinary action against personnel involved in an infractions case.

Each party must advise the committee at least two weeks prior to the hearing date if he/she elects not to attend.

The Committee on Infractions assumes the role of judge and jury at the hearing and considers information submitted by the enforcement staff, the institution and all involved parties. Lach stressed in her letter to Thorp that the committee "has not received any of the information gathered by the enforcement staff to substantiate that a violation occurred."

The hearing works similar to a court proceeding as all involved parties, including the enforcement staff, present opening statements. Any self-imposed sanctions will be offered at that time. Presentations are made for each individual allegation and committee members are able to ask questions throughout the process. After the allegations are discussed, each party offers a closing statement.

ESPN The Magazine recently reported that during the NCAA's "Enforcement Experience" seminar in May, former Committee of Infractions chairwoman Josephine Potuto provided a glimpse of a hearing's atmosphere as she "ruthlessly peppered the defendants in wildly entertaining fashion."

After the hearing, the Committee on Infractions will discuss the evidence and issue its ruling. The time frame for a response varies.

"It depends on the case, but a very general guideline is 8 to 12 weeks," NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn wrote in an email to Inside Carolina. "During this time the committee deliberates, reaches its decision and composes the detailed public report explaining the findings."

That report will be released with names deleted after the institution and other principals have been notified of the contents.

The NCAA website notes that penalties are assigned on a case-by-case basis as "each case is unique, and applying case precedent is difficult (if not impossible) because all cases are different."

As previously reported by Inside Carolina, expected penalties include probation, minimal scholarship losses and a likely forfeiture of wins. Restrictions on postseason play or television contracts are not expected, and recent NCAA rulings fall in line with those expectations.

Increased television coverage of collegiate athletics over the past quarter of a century has made television penalties archaic in scope as conferences and other athletic programs could be unfairly affected. The last time the NCAA handed out a television ban was in 1996 to the University of Maine's men's hockey team.

The NCAA has issued 24 bowl bans over the past 20 years. Twenty-two of those cases included a school being tagged with a lack of institutional control, while the other two cases – Alabama in '02 and Mississippi State in '04 – dealt with repeat NCAA violators and major recruiting violations that led to a significant competitive advantage being gained.

North Carolina's notice of allegations is absent of any of the above criteria for a potential bowl ban. UNC's willingness to act in "appropriate disciplinary or corrective action" by forcing Blake's resignation and holding out potentially ineligible student-athletes could also factor into the penalty phase.

After the committee's decision is handed down, North Carolina will have the ability to appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee, if necessary.

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