The UNC Tarheels have lost star defensive tackle Marvin Austin, wide receiver Greg Little, and first team All-ACC defensive end Robert Quinn for the rest of the 2010 NCAA college football season. None of the players have played a single game for the Tar Heels this season.
According to a release from the University of North Carolina, senior Marvin Austin was dismissed from the team for "violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules."
A star defensive tackle for the Tar Heels, Austin has been the subject of an NCAA investigation into possible illegal benefits received related to a party in Miami and two trips to California. The two trips to California involved a training facility owned by agent Gary Wichard and was hosted by Wichard's clients who have trained for the NFL draft. John Blake, a UNC assistant coach, has already been dismissed earlier this season after it was revealed that Blake had received "gifts" from Wichard.
Austin is also being investigated for trips to Miami as well as his hometown in Washington D.C.
Junior defensive end Robert Quinn as well as senior wide receiver Greg Little were ruled "permanently ineligible" by the NCAA student reinstatement committee. While Little is a senior, Quinn still retains one year of NCAA eligibility; however, since both Quinn and Austin are considered first-round talents, it is expected that all three will enter the 2011 NFL Draft.
According to USA Today, Greg Little "received $4,952 in extra benefits, including diamond earrings, as well as travel accommodations for the Bahamas, Washington D.C. and two trips to Miami, among other benefits," while Quinn "accepted two black diamond watches, a pair of matching earrings and travel accommodations for a trip to Miami, among other benefits totaling $5,642."
North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour commented on the former Tar Heels stating that "[u]nfortunately, they made serious mistakes in judgment in accepting extra benefits and then not being truthful with our staff and NCAA representatives. Now they must forfeit the privilege of playing again for the Tar Heels."
The allegations, however, are not limited to only illegal benefits. Little, Austin, and Quinn have been held out of all of UNC's football games this year due to possible academic misconduct related to an undergraduate tutor.
So, what does all of this mean for UNC and the rest of college football?
The actions of these players put a stain on the Tar Heels' entire season. In a season that has already produced an underwhelming performance on the field, Butch Davis's team must now face the embarrassment that comes with NCAA rules violations.
With USC already punished earlier this year for illegal contact with agents and other NCAA violations, major programs are facing investigations and inquiries into player misconduct. Reggie Bush has already relinquished his Heisman trophy for violations he committed at USC. Urban Meyer and other coaches have already gone so far as to bar NFL agents from university campuses.
Will we see more investigations and the emergence of more rules violations?
Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: College programs must do a better job of teaching players responsibility and the ethics that are needed to play college football in today's world.