Holmes and Johnson participated in a one-day, 3-on-3 basketball tournament to raise money for cancer research. They each paid the $10 entry fee to participate in the fundraiser and received no prize money or other gifts for participating. The event was organized by the Carolina Cancer Focus, a student organization.
UNC's compliance office became aware of the student-athletes' participation after the event and declared them ineligible per NCAA regulations that prohibit men's basketball student-athletes from participating in unsanctioned leagues, tournaments or games.
UNC asked the NCAA to restore their eligibility, which the NCAA did, along with adding a one-game suspension. The University is currently appealing the one-game suspension to the NCAA's Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement.
"Every year our compliance staff and coaches tell us we can't play in outside competition," Johnson said. "We had no idea though that playing in an informal on-campus basketball game against other students to raise money for cancer research would be against NCAA rules. Jon and I thought the outside competition rule prohibited us from playing in more organized tournaments.
"If we made a mistake, it was an honest one, and done primarily because we neglected to ask our coaches or compliance staff for prior permission. We certainly regret not having done that."