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Has North Carolina reached the Eve of Destruction?

While Mark Emmert and the NCAA fiddles to find a way to avoid punishing the North Carolina Tar Heels over the widely publicized academic scandal, one organization has not taken UNC’s 18 years of academic fraud with a grain of salt and a wink of the eye by the NCAA.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Emmert seemingly wants no part in punishing UNC as he explains the "difference" between the academic scandal at Syracuse and the UNC scandal. There has been no problem with a Syracuse punishment, yet North Carolina is apparently immune to UNC punishment as he explained in this article over at Fox Sports.

North Carolina's case is a little more complicated, Emmert explained in the press conference, because it has to do with fake courses, commonly referred to as "paper classes." The argument at UNC is that these courses were not up to the university's standard, over which the NCAA has little to no control.

Apparently, a school who encourages its athletes to take paper classes is no longer an issue with the NCAA. A reckoning, however,  is coming in June. UNC's good ol' boy relationship with the NCAA has no bearing here.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). This is the organization that grants accreditation for universities and colleges covering eleven states: Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

If you've not read the fan post by Wildcat in enemy territory concerning North Carolina's problems, you should. It was written back on October 29th.  He points out:

A university with suspended accreditation cannot graduate anyone. The last time I saw this happen was at Sue Bennet College in London, Kentucky. The result of that move was that within a year the college was entirely gone with its staff and students dispersing to neighboring institutions.

Here's the latest from the Raleigh News and Observer:

For more than two years, the NCAA accepted the university’s position that the fraud wasn’t about athletics because non-athletes were also in the fake classes and received the same high grades.

Read more here:

Shame on Mark Emmert. The facts don't match the above statement when you consider...

Kenneth Wainstein’s investigation last fall found athlete eligibility at the heart of the scandal. The former federal prosecutor said that Deborah Crowder, an administrative aide who managed the African studies department, created the fake classes in 1993 after academic counselors for athletes complained that her boss’ independent studies were too rigorous.

Read more here:

The commission has requested more information about the scandal and is expected to consider sanctions against the university in June.

If you're not a regular reader of the Raleigh News and Observer, you wouldn't know about the commission's activities...unless, of course, you read fellow SBNation's Duke Basketball Report. The writers over there are not taking any particular glee with UNC's problems, but they are keeping on top of the goings on.

I can't bring myself to believe that the commission will recommend suspension of accreditation of the entire UNC system which is very large. That just doesn't make any sense. They might, however, restrict any suspension to the Chapel Hill campus. I also don't believe that any suspension could or would be permanent. If a suspension is in order, I think the length of time would cover an "until such time as the university presents a plan to get its house in order" type of deal. That could take up to a year, more or less.

Compounding UNC's potential problems, the U.S. Department of Education may also place sanctions on the school, particularly if the school loses its accreditation. Meanwhile, the NCAA appears to be sticking its head in the sand, reluctant to do anything. Originally, they said it was an academic issue and didn't involve athletics. After more revelations came which found as noted in this Scripps Howard Institute article:

Student athletes were especially likely to take the classes, with their enrollment making up 47 percent of the courses' enrollment, according to the report. Academic counselors specifically steered athletes struggling academically toward these classes.

The main whistle-blower, Mary Willingham, recently accepted a $335,000 settlement from UNC-Chapel Hill. You can read about it at (where else?) the Raleigh News and Observer.

Meanwhile, the Athletic Department continues as if nothing has happened or changed. You have to ask, though, what other choice do they have?  UNC's 2015 basketball recruiting class currently ranks 95th and their 2016 football recruiting class current ranks 43rd. Both rankings are from 247 Sports. Clearly, recruits are taking a wait and see approach before committing to the Tar Heels.

Personally, the BBN doesn't have a dog in this fight. While I don't hold much sympathy for UNC, I do have a degree of empathy for the Tar Heel fans. They are expected to support UNC, no matter the cost. What I do have a problem with is those who still look down on Kentucky, claiming that UNC is an institution that is academically superior. That argument, simply put, no longer holds water.

One final thought: Do you wonder what Bob Knight thinks?