North Carolina issues response to third NCAA Notice of Allegations

North Carolina responded to the NCAA’s third notice of allegations. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

North Carolina released its response to the most recent NCAA Notice of Allegations in the investigation into alleged academic fraud.

Yes, this case is still ongoing.

The investigation into the school’s “academic irregularities,” which began back in 2011 and was re-opened in 2014, focuses on African and Afro-American Studies courses that were said to have no in-class instruction and give high grades for completing a single paper. In its response, sent to the NCAA May 16 and released publicly Thursday, the school says those classes, which were taken by athletes across several sports, did not violate NCAA rules.

[More college football from Yahoo Sports: Dr. Saturday’s still-too-early Top 25]

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that the Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of “fake classes” in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record,” the school said in the introduction of its response.

In the response, the school argues that the courses in question were “available to all students in the same matter” and that “no special arrangements were made for student-athletes.” It also contends the following:

Student-athletes made up 29.4 percent of the enrollment in the courses. Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the courses. All students who took the courses were required to write one or more research papers. The record shows that each student who took a course turned in work that was evaluated and given a grade for credit.

The Courses originated in the Department and not the Department of Athletics. The origin of these Courses was not to benefit student-athletes but arose out of a desire of Department Chair and Professor Julius Nyang’oro and the Department’s Student Services Manager and Secretary Deborah Crowder to appropriately assist students with a wide variety of challenges and interests.

That no one in the Department of Athletics took improper advantage of the Courses. There is no allegation that any coach or employee of the Department of Athletics violated a bylaw or directed a student-athlete to take one of these courses.

That the issues before this Panel were academic in nature and the result of inadequate academic oversight unrelated to the Department of Athletics. The academic nature of the issues is shown by the fact that those issues have been addressed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee on Colleges (“SACSCOC”), the University’s academic accreditor.1 The University has implemented over 70 reforms and initiatives to make certain that the academic irregularities that occurred will not take place again.

“Our reply to each allegation is based on the NCAA’s constitution and member-adopted bylaws,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. “We expect the Committee on Infractions to consistently apply those bylaws as the case moves forward.”

You can read the full 102-page response here.

[More on North Carolina: UNC’s response to the NCAA strongly disputes the most serious allegations]

The latest response from UNC is to the NCAA’s third Notice of Allegations in this case. The NCAA’s first NOA was issued in May 2015 after the case was reopened in June 2014. After new information was submitted by the university in August 2015, the case was paused. It resumed with a second NOA in April 2016, followed by a third in December 2016.

From there, UNC had 60 days to respond, which it formally did on May 16. After “a review to protect privacy rights,” the school release its response publicly.

[More college football from Yahoo Sports: ACC spring practice summaries]

At this point, the NCAA’s enforcement staff has 60 days to review UNC’s response before the case proceeds to a hearing with the committee on infractions.

For more North Carolina news, visit TarHeelIllustrated.com.

– – – – – – –

Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!