Julius Peppers’ college transcript has sparked a media frenzy in North Carolina.
The scandal involves classes in African-American studies that were heavily favored by athletes at the university due to an alleged lack of academic rigor and lax attendance policies for football and basketball players.
The school is investigating athletes' transcripts as far back as 1998. Coach Roy Williams said in a radio interview last week that he is “bothered” by the scandal (per ESPN.com), and he told WRAL TV that he feels “extremely good” about his own program’s innocence in the matter.
But this is the post-Paterno age, and feeling “extremely good” will not cut it with the national media or the public when it comes to college coaches turning a blind eye to infractions of any kind.
The NCAA is toothless when it comes to punishing programs unless the allegations gain a lot of traction in the press and the committee is forced to bow down to public pressure and conduct investigations and hand out sanctions.
Coach Williams is confident he has run a clean program since his arrival in 2003, but what about before he got there? If the NCAA steps in and finds wrongdoing in Chapel Hill, it could have far-reaching ramifications for both the football and basketball programs.
The NCAA will not hesitate to make an example out of a school with UNC’s status. All major programs are on notice since the events at Penn State.
The worst-case scenario is that the NCAA will conduct an investigation, find academic misconduct and ban the Tar Heels from participating in this year’s tournament altogether.