Updated: UNC gets postseason ban, scholarship reduction from NCAA

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After nearly two years of dealing with the NCAA in regards to multiple allegations of violations, including impermissible benefits and academic fraud during the Butch Davis era, North Carolina knows its NCAA fate.

And the results, as you can imagine, aren’t good for the Tar Heels.

The NCAA concludes that “over the course of three seasons, six football student-athletes competed while ineligible as a result of these violations, and multiple student-athletes received impermissible benefits totaling more than $31,000.”

The impermissible benefits among athletes between 2009-10 ranged from $99 to over $13,000.

Consequently, UNC will receive a one-year postseason ban in 2012, reduction of 15 total football scholarships over the next three years, vacate all wins from the 2008-09 season (self-imposed), pay $50,000 in fines (self-imposed) and will serve three years probation for “multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation and a failure to monitor its football program.”

Additionally, “a former assistant coach” (John Blake) faces a three-year show-cause penalty restricting any recruiting activity. Blake was connected to former sports agent Gary Wichard and received over $31,000 in athletically-related outside income between 2007-09, which Blake did not report as required by NCAA legislation.

Former tutor Jennifer Wiley, who committed academic fraud violations and provided athletes with over $4,000 in benefits, has been disassociated from the program, another self-imposed ruling by UNC.

According to the NCAA, Blake and Wiley committed unethical conduct and failed to cooperate in the investigation. They were also the main targets of the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

“This case should serve as a cautionary tale to all institutions to vigilantly monitor the activities of those student-athletes who possess the potential to be top professional prospects,” the committee stated in its report, which you can read HERE. “It should also serve to warn student-athletes that if they choose to accept benefits from agents or their associates, they risk losing their eligibility for collegiate competition.”

Below are statements from UNC’s administration, which has stated it will not appeal the NCAA’s decision:

Chancellor Holden Thorp
“It’s been almost two years since this investigation began, so getting the NCAA ruling is a big step in moving forward. We approached this investigation the way that you would expect of Carolina – thoughtfully, thoroughly and with full cooperation – and that was the right thing to do.

“We self-imposed a number of penalties in the fall that we thought were appropriate based on the facts in our case. The NCAA has given us additional penalties, and the sanctions are more severe than we expected. The ruling is disappointing for our new coaching staff and our student-athletes.

“We considered an appeal. But given the timing and the record that other schools have had with appeals, as well as the fact that penalties are suspended during an appeal, we’ve decided it’s best to accept our sanctions and move forward.”

AD Bubba Cunningham
“North Carolina has always represented so much that is good about college athletics. The last year and a half has been difficult for everyone who loves UNC from both an academic and athletic perspective. It’s time for us to move Carolina Athletics forward to help restore that reputation of integrity and respect for which the University has been known.

We can’t guarantee people won’t make mistakes in the future, but we can give our collective best effort to prevent a repeat of what brought us to this day. College athletics evolves daily and the high profile nature of intercollegiate athletics demands that we remain vigilant and accountable for the coaches, student-athletes and staff who represent our great university.

It is our aspiration that Carolina will be better in the future as aresult of what we have gone through and everyone associated with our program will strive each day to make our students, faculty, alumni, fans and staff proud to be Tar Heels.”

Jake Butt’s draft tumble will net him $543k insurance payout

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The decisions to sit out their team’s respective bowl games made by Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey had little impact on either’s draft stock as both were selected in the Top 10 Thursday night.  Jake Butt‘s decision ended to play up costly him dearly, although he will see a (wee) bit of a financial cushion softening the blow.

Butt suffered a torn ACL in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss to Florida State late last year.  At the time, Butt was considered one of the top tight end prospects for the 2017 NFL draft, with most experts considering him, at worst, a second-round selection.  Most, though, had him ticketed as a first-round pick in a deep class at the position.

Unfortunately, Butt saw his draft stock plummet because of the injury, with the talented tight end falling all the way to the fifth round as he was selected with the No. 145 overall pick by the Denver Broncos Saturday afternoon.

The injury and subsequent fall cost Butt millions of dollars.  The sliver of a silver lining is that Butt had taken out an insurance policy that will pay him a tax-free sum of $543,000, Darren Rovell of ESPN.com reported.

That said, Butt saw what would’ve been a potential signing bonus in the neighborhood of $4 million drop to just shy of $400,000.  Even considering the insurance payout, the injury will have cost Butt, at bare minimum, $3 million.

It could also have significant ramifications for the sport moving forward as, with the recent examples of Butt, Fournette, McCaffrey and even Jaylon Smith (HERE) fresh in their memories, star players could, more than ever, give significant consideration to skipping out on their team’s bowl game — maybe even a playoff game.

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.