UNC Football: Life After the NCAA Sanctions


The University of North Carolina does not know life as a school living under NCAA Sanctions.  It’s just not the Carolina way.  News of the scandal shocked me when it first broke.  The magnitude of it still makes me sick.  Not the Tar Heels I think, only it was the Tar Heels, like a nightmare.  I try to take solace in the fact that this could never, ever, happen with our beloved basketball program.  Not the program the legendary Dean Smith build.  Not the program Roy Williams is watching over right now.  But that’s just not saying much unfortunately.  It did happen, and that’s all there is to it.  We can be proud of Larry Fedora now all we want.  And when he’s successful as our new football coach and leader of the program.   We can be proud of him then as well.  But it will never change the one simple fact that it all did happen.  Our school, the University of North Carolina, UNC, Carolina, the Heels, the Tar Heels, the place, the school, the programs we love, but it did happen.

The NCAA FINALLY came down on the Tar Heels Monday after months of waiting around for who knows what reason.  UNC was hit with the loss of 15 scholarships over the next three seasons and three years of probation to go along with it’s 2012 post season ban.  That’s a major hit to take and more than was expected by both the University and most reports.  Larry Fedora and company will now have a much tougher task ahead of them now.  The probation is expected and you can deal with that, the one year post season ban isn’t that bad considering a transition year is in store anyway.  But 15 scholarships over three seasons is steep.  Fedora was off to a nice start in the upcoming recruiting class.  His stated goal of putting together a North Carolina Dream Team and a national contender will now be severely tested.  As if life as a college football head coach taking over at a new job isn’t difficult enough.

But the NCAA must do what they are there to do, govern.  And that’s what they did on Monday by making an example out of North Carolina.  You can’t do the types of thins Butch Davis and the last regime did.  And if you do, the penalties will be steep.  Chancellor Holden Thorp said they thought the penalties were harsh but the University will not appeal.  A wise decision in my view, it’s time to put this issue to bed the best we can as a University and as a program and move on.  The NCAA disiplinary committee did admit that UNC acted swiftly and cooperated fully.  But in my view that’s far too little too late.  The entire athletic program fails when something like this occurs.  One, two, or even a handful or unknown incidents can easily slip by any supervisors eye.  But when your football program led by Butch Davis is racking up as many awful violations as ended up being found against them, that’s negligence and negligence must be punished.

"“The violations in this case were serious and widespread,” the NCAAs committee wrote in a 38-page report released on Monday. “…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.” “Obviously this has been a painful, difficult experience,” Thorp said. “We don’t like to have this kind of attention brought to any part of the university, and especially one as visible as part of the athletics program.”"

Life after will be hard for Carolina. Building a team to contend in the ACC is hard enough. Building one to contend at the national level is much harder. A steep and difficult task would have been ahead for Larry Fedora and his staff without these violations in the first place. Now, with five less scholarships each of the next three years, Fedora has an even harder task.

But for Fedora, the task isn’t just building the team on the field. It’s not just about establishing UNC as the powerhouse in the state and the conference. It’s about becoming the face of the football program at North Carolina. It’s about making people think of a good football team, a clean football team not just a winning one when they think of UNC. Fedora already had a difficult job at hand when he took the UNC job. After Monday’s NCAA rulings, he might have the most difficult job in the country.

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