NCAA Sets Tentative Timeline in UNC Case

UNC's response to its second amended notice of allegations is due on May 16.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Committee on Infractions is tentatively scheduled to hear the University of North Carolina’s case involving academic irregularities in the previously named African and Afro-American Studies department in August, according to an April 14 letter from NCAA COI chair Greg Sankey that was obtained by Inside Carolina on Friday.

Sankey detailed a timeline that included anticipated COI hearing dates of August 16-17 in the correspondence delivered to the investigation’s involved parties last week. The letter indicated UNC initially requested a 30-day extension request to its response to the second amended notice of allegations and that all involved parties’ had a deadline of May 16, 2017, to deliver their responses.

The enforcement staff’s procedural documents will be due two months later on July 17, thereby allowing the COI hearing to take place in mid-August.

“There will be no further delays, and the case will be heard on schedule,” Sankey wrote.

The Associated Press first reported the contents of the letter on Friday.

Sankey refused a call for his recusal from the case on the basis of a conflict of interest by Elliot Abrams, a Raleigh-based attorney whose client is former AFAM administrator Deborah Crowder. Sankey stated that his conference affiliation as SEC commissioner “does not create a direct conflict or the appearance of partiality” while citing misstatements of fact in dismissing Abrams’ previous conflict of interest charges.

Sankey indicated one such inaccuracy was that the COI panel directed the enforcement staff to change allegations. In a Nov. 28, 2016 letter to the involved parties, the panel indicated that the second notice of allegations may not have been framed appropriately and therefore requested “that the enforcement staff review whether the potential violations in this case are alleged in a fashion to best decide this case.”

Sankey also dismissed a charge that he previously participated in the SEC’s investigation of Auburn University’s independent study class scandal during his time as the conference’s associate commissioner. The NCAA determined that Auburn did not commit academic fraud in 2005-06 when a professor taught student-athletes in large numbers of independent study courses that required minimal, if any, time in the classroom.

“The panel, including me, will hear and decide the case based on the case record and the membership’s bylaws,” Sankey wrote.

UNC’s defense is largely built on multiple examples of the NCAA failing to adhere to its membership’s bylaws, as detailed here and here.

PDF: Sankey's Response

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