The University of North Carolina is digging in against the NCAA in its years-long fight over the scope of academic fraud allegations involving classes taken by athletes in the African and Afro-American studies department between 2002 and 2011 that helped many retain their eligibility.
In a response made public Thursday to the NCAA’s most recent Notice of Allegations, North Carolina challenges the most serious and potentially damaging allegation, arguing that “inadequate academic oversight unrelated to the Department of Athletics” doesn’t constitute an issue within the NCAA’s jurisdiction.
Further, the school argues that the case should not be characterized as an “extra benefit” situation because the courses were available to all students and that athletes were not treated differently from others with regard to how the courses were administered. North Carolina also accuses the NCAAâs enforcement staff of changing its theory multiple times for how the facts of the case could be shoehorned into violations of extra benefit rules.
âThe issues concerning the Courses are academic in nature, concern academic administration and lie beyond the reach of the bylaws belatedly invoked by the Staff,â the response states.
This case is a difficult one, as North Carolinaâs argument that the issues with the African-American Studies department fall more into the area of accreditation than NCAA bylaws has merit.Â
On the other hand, the NCAA has charged UNC with conduct that was “intended to provide a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit and competitive or other advantage” due to the classes, which involved a disproportionate percentage of athletes. While the facts may not fit cleanly into a bylaw, the NCAA Committee on Infractions will have to determine whether the evidence points to a systematic steering of athletes to these classes for the express purpose of raising their grade-point averages and coordinated in an unethical manner.Â