In a decision that has sparked confusion and rage across the country, the NCAA has cleared North Carolina of any academic impropriety after an investigation of the scandal that has plagued the university and given scrutiny to their Afro-American studies department. The NCAA ruled that there were no violations committed by the university, and that no player's eligibility was tainted by the courses…despite mountains of evidence that seem contrary to that ruling.
The outrage has been widespread. Bruce Feldman said on his CBS blog that "the NCAA makes it up as they go along" and "they find what they want to find". Yahoo's Dan Wetzel called out the NCAA for hypocracy in reference to claims of favoritism. A piece last week on College Sports Business News by David Ridpath stated "the NCAA can use this case to change legitimate negative perceptions of the process it purports to be fair and consistent by acting according to its published principles," and after today, it appears they haven't done that at all. Ridpath's comments on Friday after learning about the ruling were even more damning.
"There is simply no justification for this. The fraud was to benefit athletic eligibility. After Penn State, the NCAA looks as inept as ever. Very disappointing—there were “other students” at Marshall. Another joke to a governing body that cannot seem to get out of its own way."
The lack of additional sanctions handed down to UNC after this scandal, when some were wondering if the school could possibly receive the death penalty, is mind-numbing. It's going to be very interesting to see the NCAA's reaction to the independent probe into this situation led by former North Carolina governor James Martin. If Martin finds mountains of evidence suggesting that athletes received preferential treatment in these classes, the NCAA will really have no recourse, and will have to levy some sort of additional sanctions towards the school.
One thing is for sure: across the country, there are lots of angry fans of schools who received penalties for less substantial infractions than UNC.