Compared to the hurricane of alleged NCAA violations that blew through North Carolina last week, the fate of a single player is a drop in the bucket — even if that player has a chance to be the best defensive end in college football. But of all the Tar Heels' problems with Big Brother, at least they know now that Quinton Coples ain't one:
The NCAA told UNC that Coples, an All-ACC defensive lineman, did not commit any violations in connection with a draft party for former UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin in May, according to a school spokesman.
Robert Orr, Coples' attorney, said Tuesday that he received a phone call from the NCAA on Monday and that he considered Coples' issues with the NCAA closed.
"At no time was there ever any allegation or intimation of a violation of NCAA By-laws," Orr wrote in a statement released to the media. "This process was simply the NCAA gathering information relevant to its responsibilities for monitoring student/athlete conduct as governed by the NCAA By-laws."
So there you go. Coples was spotted in an online photo gallery chronicling the nightlife of a Washington, D.C., club on May 5, which happened to be the night that ex-teammates Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn — two of the seven Heels declared ineligible for the entire 2010 season for allegedly accepting cash and prizes from agents and former UNC teammates — were in the house to celebrate their recent windfall in the NFL Draft. Coples' presence in and of itself was not a violation. as long as he paid for all travel, lodging, food, drinks, clothes and anything else the NCAA could conceivable classify as an "improper benefit" himself. Give him credit: The man knows how to save a receipt.
Last year, Coples was one of the few Carolina defenders who emerged unscathed from the probe that, over the course of the 2010 campaign, cost a dozen UNC starters the entire 2010 season and likely cost Coples' position coach his career. With the opportunity, Coples led the team in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (15.5) as a junior, earned a first-team All-ACC nod and convinced the scouts he's destined to become another high first-round pick off the Tar Heel defensive line next April.
North Carolina won't face any sanctions this season (it doesn't go in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions until late October, at the earliest, and likely won't receive a verdict before the end of the year), and apparently will have its best players for a change — along with Coples, defensive end Donte Paige-Moss and linebacker Zach Brown are also considered certain first-rounders. Considering the hammer that's likely coming in the new year, it had better enjoy the moment while it still can.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.