Since 2010, the North Carolina athletic department has had hanging over it a dark cloud of allegations that threatens to rain down severe NCAA sanctions at any time.

And while everyone expects the Tar Heels’ eventual punishment to be severe, Maryland president Wallace Loh envisions a truly shocking outcome. Via The Charlotte News & Observer:

“As president I sit over a number of dormant volcanoes,” Loh said. “One of them is an athletic scandal. It blows up, it blows up the university, its reputation, it blows up the president.

“For the things that happened in North Carolina, it’s abysmal. I would think that this would lead to the implementation of the death penalty by the NCAA. But I’m not in charge of that.”

North Carolina stands accused of broad academic fraud and misconduct that stretched from 1993 to 2011. The athletic department allegedly arranged athletes, particularly football players, to take sham classes and helped them cheat on assignments. Various university and athletic department faculty were allegedly aware of the misconduct but didn’t intervene.

It’s unclear if Loh was suggesting the NCAA would blow up the North Carolina football program or (gasp!) the entire athletic department, but no Division I program has gotten the death penalty since SMU football in 1986.

According to ESPN, a Maryland spokesman said Loh’s comment “not a reflection of personal beliefs about the university or its leadership,” which begs the question: What exactly were they a reflection of? Loh probably didn’t expect his comments, made last week during a University of Maryland senate meeting, to go national, but that’s what happens when you say something provocative about a rival school.

ESPN also sought comment from North Carolina and received this response from vice chancellor of communications Joel Curran:

“We were surprised that a sitting university president with no direct knowledge of our case would choose to offer such uninformed and highly speculative opinions.”

The North Carolina athletic department will almost certainly face some truly severe consequences as a result of its academic scandal, but if Penn State didn’t get the death penalty after covering for a serial rapist, the Tar Heels are probably safe.

[Charlotte News & Observer, ESPN]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

1 thought on “Maryland president expects North Carolina athletic department to get ‘death penalty’ after academic scandal

  1. ” if Penn State didn’t get the death penalty after covering for a serial rapist, the Tar Heels are probably safe.” Are you serious? The Penn State situation was a criminal matter. It did not reflect the team’s performance on the field. You get the death penalty for cheating, fraud and tilting the table to give your team an advantage. The NCAA should have never taken action against Penn State because the violation did not have anything to do with academic fraud or illegal players. They went way past their charter on that one. But hey, you wanted to get the shot in so congrats to you…

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