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Reopening of UNC Case Raises Questions for NCAA

The day many have waited for since 2012 when UNC began its long look into potential academic fraud in the athletic department has finally arrived:

After determining that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might be willing to speak with the enforcement staff, the NCAA has reopened its investigation.

That raises two significant and related questions at this point: when were those individuals uncooperative and how did the NCAA discover they were now possibly willing to talk?

If the answer to the former is during the original investigation and the answer to the latter is via the latest media reports about the scandal, then the NCAA basically did what everyone thought it did. They essentially sat on the sidelines monitoring UNC’s own investigations and the media digging into the academic scandal until something triggered them to get more actively involved.

But if the answers to both questions involve the NCAA attempting to interview individuals after the close of the original investigation, then the investigation was actually reopened some time ago. The NCAA is just now publicly acknowledging it, likely since UNC was sent a notice of inquiry, which precedes any on-campus investigation by the enforcement staff. That means the NCAA was actively investigating UNC at a time when the entire college sports world was almost universally screaming at the NCAA to get actively involved.

It would be hard to say which would have more collateral PR damage. On the one hand, the NCAA might have done exactly what people accused it of. On the other hand, the NCAA might have sat there silently in the name of protecting the integrity of the investigation while they were looking in on the UNC investigation, at least since sometime after last September. Either way, it is another victory for advocates of a more open, transparent enforcement process.

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