Uh oh. It looks like the NCAA simply couldn't ignore the massive amounts of red-tinged smoke rising out of Chapel Hill in recent months. The recent accusations by former UNC player Rashad McCants has evidently forced the NCAA's hand, after it seemed they were determined to try to let this all die down in order to avoid any further examination of the academic fraud which has been found to have affected the Tar Heel athletics program.
BIG NEWS. The NCAA is re-opening its investigation into UNC, according to AD Bubba Cunningham.— Sara Ganim (@sganim) June 30, 2014
Here is very recent reporting on the matter from WNCN in Roanoke, VA:
UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham said Monday that the school has received "a verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA" that its investigation will continue.
"The NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff," Cunningham said in a statement.
Back in February, North Carolina hired a former federal prosecutor, Kenneth Wainstein, to investigate the allegations of academic fraud at the school. Wainstein vowed to follow the evidence wherever it led, and recently briefed the UNC Board of Governors on the status of the inquiry:
So far, Wainstein said he and his staff have interviewed 80 people, searched about 1.5 million emails and reviewed records involving thousands of students going as far back to the 1980s.
Wainstein said he had been briefed by State Bureau of Investigation agents who conducted a criminal probe into the suspect classes and that he had access two critical witnesses, African studies department Julius Nyang'oro and longtime department manager Deborah Crowder.
Now that the NCAA is getting involved again, it's a sure bet they are going to want to find out what Wainstein has. Whether or not he will be authorized to share that information with the association is still up in the air, as far as I know. To be fair, though, this announcement is pretty much hot off the presses.
So despite our skepticism that the NCAA would care about McCants' recent confession, it appears that it was misplaced. No matter what the outcome, it's pretty clear that North Carolina's snobbish academic reputation is unlikely to recover from this for the foreseeable future. That isn't to cast aspersions on the actual quality of its education, but the Tar Heels are going to remain on the butt of jokes about academics in athletics for a long, long time.