NCAA Watching Tobacco Road
Separated by just several miles, Duke and North Carolina purport to be the class acts of the Atlantic Coast Conference, if not the country. Unfortunately, the two schools are struggling to stay out of the news regarding their potential violations of NCAA rules. It is not clear that the two schools will be able to avoid sanctions and penalties.
In fact, although the Confidential previously noted that North Carolina appeared safe, that same entry observed that this situation was fluid. And now NCAA President Mark Emmert is indicating that North Carolina may not be out of the proverbial woods yet. Even so, Emmert stopped well short of stating that North Carolina would be sanctioned: “We’ll continue to monitor the situation and see what the facts are as they unfold from the investigations that [UNC] is involved with,” Emmert said. “… And [then we’ll see] if there’s anything further that we need to do at that time.” Thus, Tar Heels fans (and enemies) can only sit back and wait for more details to emerge.
Speaking of enemies of Chapel Hill, Duke has its own issues. Former Duke starter Lance Thomas somehow purchased nearly $100,000 during his final year in school. Emmert noted that the lack of cooperation by Thomas and the jewelry store would not prevent the NCAA from imposing penalties on Duke:
“We certainly could deal with a case where we don’t necessarily have cooperation from the actors, but we still have to rely on facts and rely on well-established information,” Emmert said while making it clear he was speaking in general terms and not specifically about Duke’s situation. “It occasionally drives fans out there crazy because they’ll read in a blog or some other source that this or that happened. But the standards of evidence that we use are pretty darn high because we’re dealing with people’s lives here. … We have to go out and make sure we can verify all that facts, and that’s always a big challenge [without cooperation].”
Importantly, the Thomas season at issue was the year that Duke won the national title, 2009-2010. So sanctions against Duke could lead to a vacation of that accomplishment.
So, if you hate one or both of Duke or North Carolina, stay tuned. Emmert and the NCAA are keeping an eye on both situations.