CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – University of North Carolina athletics director Bubba Cunningham remains hopeful that the ongoing NCAA investigation into academic irregularities in the formerly named African and Afro-American (AFAM) Studies department will conclude next spring.
“I’m still confident that we’ll wrap this up by spring of 2016," Cunningham told InsideCarolina.com in a recent interview.
UNC received its original notice of allegations on May 20 and was set to release its response to the public on Aug. 17. Three days prior to the release the institution announced that it had identified two new pieces of information requiring further review: (1) additional examples of possible instances of improper academic assistance, and (2) potential recruiting violations in the men’s soccer program that were unrelated to the notice of allegations.
Upon reviewing the new information, the NCAA enforcement staff would decide whether or not an amended notice of allegations was warranted. Cunningham indicated at that time the shared confidence by UNC and the NCAA to resolve the matter within 60 days.
That 60-day window came to a close in October, and yet there is still no clarity on the potential resolution.
Cunningham provided further insight during a radio interview on The David Glenn Show on Wednesday.
“As far as the intermediate steps, I’m not exactly sure, quite frankly,” Cunningham said. “But I am still very hopeful that we will wrap this up by the spring of ’16. We are still communicating on a very regular basis with the NCAA. We are still assembling facts, and at some point we will get an amended notice.
“And at that point, then the real clock begins. Once you get your official notice of allegations, that’s when you have specific time markers that you have to hit. In the meantime, we are being as patient as we can, as are they. This is taking probably longer than any of us anticipated, but I still focus on and I do believe spring of ’16 we’ll have closure to this case.”
The confirmation of an amended notice resets the procedure timeline. Once the amended notice is received, UNC will have 90 days to respond in accordance with NCAA bylaws.
Once the school submits its NOA response to the NCAA, the enforcement staff has 60 days to prepare and provide its own response to the Committee on Infractions (COI). The COI meets six times a year, according to the NCAA’s website, with scheduled meetings next spring in April and June.
Infractions reports, which include any potential penalties, are typically completed and delivered to the institution 6-to-8 weeks following the COI hearing, according to the NCAA.
Given those time markers, Cunningham's hope for a spring resolution may require an expedited process.
The NCAA charged UNC with five allegations in the initial notice:
1. (a) ASPSA academic counselors provided impermissible benefits to student-athletes in African and Afro-American Studies courses from 2002-2011 and (b) allowed 10 student-athletes to exceed independent study credit limits (12-hour max) from 2006-11.
2. Academic counselor Jan Boxill provided extra benefits in the form of impermissible academic assistance and special arrangements to women's basketball players from 2007-2010.
3. Student services manager Deborah Crowder violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct in failing to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff's requests during this investigation.
4. Professor and chair of the African and Afro-American Studies department Dr. Julius Nyang'oro violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct in failing to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff's requests during this investigation.
5. Allegation Nos. 1 and 2 violated the NCAA principles of institutional control and rules compliance in failing to monitor Boxill. The University also exhibited a lack of institutional control in regard to the impermissible benefits provided by athletics academic counselors and staff within the African and Afro-American Studies (AFRI/AFAM) department.