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.”

One of FAU’s highest-rated 2018 signees won’t play for Owls

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A key piece of Lane Kiffin‘s 2018 recruiting puzzle is no more.

On his personal Twitter account very late Tuesday night, Charles Cameron announced that “[it is] with great regret that I inform you of my decision to not continue my education and football career at Florida Atlantic University.” Cameron gave no indication as to what his football future holds, including whether or not he’ll move on to another program.

The defensive tackle had transferred into the Owls from a Mississippi junior college earlier this offseason.

Cameron was a three-star member of FAU’s 2018 recruiting class.  Only one signee in the Owls’ class this year was rated higher than Cameron — fellow defensive tackle Marcel Southall out of a Texas junior college.

Prior to his departure, the lineman had been expected to play immediately this coming season.

Clemson, LSU announce future home-and-home series

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The talk has officially come to fruition.

Earlier this month, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich confirmed that he had been involved in scheduling talks with several Power Five programs, including LSU.  Wednesday, both of those football programs announced a future home-and-home series pitting the ACC Tigers against the SEC Tigers.

The two teams will meet first at Memorial Stadium (aka Death Valley) in Clemson, South Carolina on August 30, 2025.  The following season, LSU will play host to Clemson Sept. 5 in Baton Rouge’s Tiger Stadium (aka Death Valley).

“The series against LSU continues the philosophy we have had at Clemson for many years of looking to add another Power 5 opponent to our schedule outside of our annual rivalry game with the University of South Carolina,” Radakovich said in a statement. “We are excited about playing a school with LSU’s rich football tradition. We know our fans will enjoy visiting Baton Rouge, and we know they will provide our renowned Clemson hospitality to the fans from LSU.”

“We have put an emphasis on bringing Power 5 teams outside of the Southeastern Conference to Tiger Stadium as often as we can,” Radakovich’s LSU counterpart, Joe Alleva, said in his statement. “It’s what we want and most importantly it’s what our fans want.”

The 2025 game will mark the first-ever regular season matchup between the two schools.  They have met in the postseason three different times — the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, 1996 Peach Bowl and 1959 Sugar Bowl.

The SEC Tigers hold a 2-1 edge in those bowl games.

Pair of transfers leave LSU with just two scholarship QBs

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And then there were two

Earlier in the day Tuesday, rumors surfaced that, after neither showed up for practice, two LSU quarterbacks, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse, were considering transfers from the Tigers.  Tuesday night, Narcisse announced on his personal Twitter account that he has indeed pulled the trigger on a transfer.

The redshirt sophomore came to his decision “[a]fter sitting down and talking with my parents.” Narcisse wrote that he wants “a fresh start and be able to have an opportunity to showcase my Abilities.”

Just over 13 hours later, McMillan took to the same social media website to announce the same decision.  McMillan pulled the trigger on a transfer after meeting with the Tigers’ coaching staff Wednesday morning.

With the departures of McMillan and Narcisse, LSU is left with just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster — presumptive front-runner to start and Ohio State transfer Joey Burrow; and four-star 2017 signee and last year’s primary backup Myles Brennan.  There are two other quarterbacks currently listed on the Tigers’ roster — Tennessee Tech transfer sophomore Andre Sale and true freshman Jordan Loving.

There is some level of good news in the seemingly dire depth at the position as, if something were to happen to Burrow and Brennan, Sale started seven games for his former FCS school before transferring to the Tigers in January of this year.  So the quarterback room has that going for them, which is nice.

As for the first of the two departed ones, Narcisse, the St. James, LA, product was a four-star member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class.  He took a redshirt last season after enrolling early as he continued to rehab significant knee injuries he sustained in high school.

McMillan, meanwhile, has already graduated from LSU.  He’s thrown exactly one more pass in his collegiate career than I have, but would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if that’s the tack he takes.

Alabama RB Najee Harris misses second straight day of practice

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It’s not even remotely worrisome to the point of full-blown fretting, but there’s at least a pause for concern.

Alabama running back Najee Harris missed Monday’s practice with what is being described as a lower-body injury. Tuesday, Harris missed his second consecutive day of practice because of the same injury.

BamaCentral.com wrote that “Harris was seen before practice with his leg in a small scooter so he can keep his weight off of it.” It’s believed the sophomore suffered the injury during the Crimson Tide’s scrimmage this past Saturday.

It remains unclear how much longer Harris will be sidelined, although al.com reported the injury, which that website is saying involves one of the back’s feet, will probably sideline him for the next couple of weeks of practice.  On a positive front, that same site notes that there’s a “good chance” Harris is available for the opener Sept. 1 against Louisville.

Head coach Nick Saban is not scheduled to meet again with the media until Thursday, which will likely be the next official update on Harris’ status moving forward.

Last season as a true freshman, Harris finished fourth on the Tide in rushing yards (370) and rushing touchdowns (three). He averaged more than six yards per on his 61 carries.

The good news is that, outside of Harris, ‘Bama returns two of its leading rushers from a year ago — Damien Harris (team-leading 1,000 yards) and Josh Jacobs (284) — should the other Harris’ injury linger on beyond the next couple of weeks.