It’s a cliche opinion, but it still rings extremely true in the final stretch of the year. In the past week alone, we’ve seen more Grayson Allen shenanigans and the confirmed extension of the neverending war between UNC and the NCAA. It’s a bad time.
It’s year-end list season, and instead of compiling the best moments of 2016, we here at SportsChannel 8 have decided to recap the worst to fully capture how the past 12 months have ravaged our beloved sports teams. It’s like a trip down memory lane, but if the trip included I-40 traffic at 5:15 p.m. on Friday and the memories were those of getting an itchy sweater in that Christmas present you swore would be a Nintendo 64.
Without further ado (and in no particular order), here is the fourth installment of our eight worst North Carolina sports moments of 2016.
6. Another Year of UNC vs. NCAA
Instead of the Jelly of the Month Club, UNC fans found another NOA in their stockings, a more appropriate gift that just keeps on giving.
By now, you know the drill. For nearly two decades, academic misconduct took place in UNC’s AFAM department, where students (athletes included) took fraudulent “paper classes” where attendance wasn’t required.
In 2014, the university-funded Wainstein Report uncovered even more misconduct in emails between professors and members of the athletics department. The NCAA then began its investigation of the university.
In 2015, the NCAA issued its first Notice of Allegations against North Carolina. NOA: The Phantom Menace charged UNC with impermissible benefits to student-athletes, that Jan Boxill (women’s basketball academic counselor) knowingly provided these benefits, that Deborah Crowder withheld information, that Julius Nyang’oro also withheld information, and that university officials displayed a lack of institutional control.
The major takeaways from NOA and the Sorcerer’s Stone were the impermissible benefits charges and the lack of institutional control, as well as the inclusion of football and men’s basketball, the two sports that all online faux outrage centers around.
Before UNC could respond, the university provided the NCAA with more information, and the waiting game once again took place for another NOA.
This spring, the NCAA sent North Carolina NOA: Lost In New York. The amended document kept the three allegations against Boxill, Crowder and Nyang’oro, as well as lack of institutional control, while also adding a charge of failure to monitor. The major key here, however, was the omission of football and men’s basketball from NOA: The Secret of the Ooze.
In August, North Carolina released its response to the amended NOA, which we covered down in Rio during the 2016 Summer Olympics (author’s side note: Later that night, we went to a bar with all you can drink beer. A bar fight broke out. It was awesome.):
So UNC, in laymans terms, told the NCAA that these charges were out of its jurisdiction.
Later in the fall, Bubba Cunningham traveled to Indianapolis for a meeting with the NCAA. The details of that meeting are still unknown.
Then, on December 21st, the bombshell happened: The NCAA released yet another Notice of Allegations against UNC. This one reinstated football and men’s basketball into the mix, while also expanding the timeline of the misconduct. I could pretend to break it down further than that, but I couldn’t hold a candle to what my former mentor and spirit animal Greg Barnes did right here.
Seriously, click that link, and then click THIS link from Inside Carolina, and then come back. No really, do that. I’ll be waiting.
WHAT IS GOING ON?! NCAA Committee of Infractions Chair Greg Sankey, who is also the COMMISSIONER OF THE SEC, denied UNC’s request to submit information regarding correspondence with the NCAA to remove the impermissible benefits allegation, his panel later questioned said decision, and then “cited ‘limited procedural record’ on file,” according to Barnes’ article.
This is what led to NOA: Return of the King, and assuredly a bare minimum of one year of back and forth between the two institutions.
What makes it all even more frustrating is that it truly felt like the clouds were parting over Chapel Hill. The second NOA certainly favored UNC relative to the previous notice, talk (amongst rational people with lives outside of tearing down banners) died down, and the North Carolina General Assembly filled the public outrage hole that the UNC scandal was about to leave behind.
But nope. For UNC fans, the topic is rehashed and reloaded for another year. Some pundits speculate that this case could even go to court, which actually wouldn’t be the worst thing for the university, considering the NCAA performs as well in courts as Clemson basketball does in Chapel Hill.
The problem is, however, that North Carolina time and time again has lost in the court of public opinion. No amount of litigation regarding bylaws and procedures can wash that stain out, and the latest NOA only deepens it.
The scandal has officially jumped the shark. The scandal probably jumped the shark a year ago, but now it actually feels like it will never end. The only positives this can bring from now on are more chances for us to post GIFs and more traffic to StateFansNation, which is my personal go-to one-stop shop for NC State news and analysis.
Head basketball coach Roy Williams, at a spry 66 years old, quipped this following UNC’s win over Northern Iowa the day NOA and the Last Crusade was released:
#UNC‘s Roy W says he’s “tired of this junk…I hoped the NCAA thing would be over before I retired, now I hope it’ll be over before I die.”
— Marilyn Payne (@marilyn_payne) December 22, 2016
I’m 21, and I’m starting to hope the same thing for myself.
Thanks, 2016. Way to assure more of the same in 2017. Jerk.
Check back tomorrow for the next installment in the Bottom 8 North Carolina Sports Moments in 2016.