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UNC now takes center stage

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The next stop on the NCAA's tour through the tawdry world of major college football infractions is Chapel Hill. The governing body has recently delivered a Notice of Allegations to UNC and it makes the list of indiscretions by both USC and Ohio State pale in comparison.

The NCAA has maintained that each case is different and treated separately and while that may be true, it needs to be careful in handing down its verdict on the Tar Heels.

USC and Ohio State are the big fish in college football and were made examples of as a result. North Carolina shouldn't be afforded any leniency simply because the program is considered "middle of the road."

The charges of impropriety as outlined in the notice are far reaching, including:

Allegations against former assistant coach John Blake: - unethical conduct for providing false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the institution and for failure to cooperate with the investigation. - marketed athletic abilities of student-athletes to agent Gary Wichard - received outside income that he did not report to the institution

Allegations against alumna Jennifer Wiley: - unethical conduct for refusing to provide information to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the institution - provided extra benefits to student-athletes in the form of travel and parking expenses, and tutoring
North Carolina shouldn't be afforded any leniency simply because the program is considered "middle of the road."

Allegations of academic fraud against student-athletes and the tutor

Allegations that student-athletes received preferential treatment and accepted impermissible benefits

Allegations against a former student-athlete for unethical conduct

Failure by the institution to adequately monitor the conduct of Chris Hawkins, an individual triggering NCAA agent legislation; the social media activity of the football team for a period in 2010; and possible extra benefits to a student-athlete triggered by agent legislation.

In the cases at USC and Ohio State, a coaching change took place, with Pete Carroll jumping ship to the NFL and Jim Tressel being forced to walk the plank in Columbus. The big difference in the UNC debacle is that somehow, almost inexplicably, Butch Davis' name appears just once in the lengthy report and that is only to notify him of his right to appear before the committee.

It seems that if there was ever a case of a "lack of institutional control," it is along Tobacco Road, but the NCAA omitted that all important charge from its laundry list of transgressions.

In the school's defense, UNC has complied with the investigation from day one and disassociated itself from Blake and Wiley almost immediately upon learning of their shady practices. That had to have figured into the NCAA's decision not to slap North Carolina with LOIC.

So, is Davis Mr. Teflon?

It seems to be his intent on seeing this thing through to the end.

"I feel terrible that these allegations occurred under my watch. I especially regret that the university has had to endure this scrutiny because of the football program. The responsibility for correcting any problems that put us in this position is mine, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

"I want to thank our fans for the tremendous support we have received. Their loyalty and support has been especially appreciated by our student-athletes. The opportunity I have to serve the University of North Carolina is one that I cherish, and I will continue to focus on improving every aspect of our football program."

Whether Davis gets the opportunity to correct the problems isn't up to him.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp and Director of Athletics Dick Baddour are not tipping their hands just yet but did release a statement to the Carolina faithful.

"The investigation into our football program began a year ago. We pledged then to take the investigation seriously, to go where the facts took us, and to face the issues head on. Early on, we severed our relationship with John Blake. We sat out student-athletes for our season opener against LSU. Over the season, we held 14 student-athletes out of one or more games. We also disassociated former Tar Heel football player Chris Hawkins, tutor Jennifer Wiley and jeweler A.J. Machado. We have cooperated fully with the NCAA and will continue to do so as we prepare for our Oct. 28 hearing.

"We deeply regret that Carolina is in this position. As we move forward, Coach Butch Davis and the two of us are focused on emerging from this as a stronger athletics program. We know that your association with the University and with Carolina Athletics is important to you, and we know that we are the caretakers of that relationship."

While its a nice try at putting minds at ease, the odd man out could be Davis.

He may not receive any discipline from the NCAA for his part in this mess, but very well could find himself on the unemployment line nonetheless.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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