If you were hoping for a few salacious details about this afternoon's late-breaking allegations of academic fraud involving North Carolina football players, sorry: UNC officials weren't in a very forthcoming mood during tonight's press conference on the subject. Yes, as earlier reports indicated, the university has informed the NCAA of, in the words of athletic director Dick Baddour, "possible academic misconduct involving a former tutor and student-athletes on the football team." An investigation is underway. Drive home safely.
Who are the players? How many? What was the nature of the "misconduct"? When did it occur? Was it a one-time incident or a pattern of misconduct? They really can't say at this point. Does the investigation threaten any players' eligibility for the upcoming season? Possibly, according to Baddour: "It is likely the review will extend beyond the start of the season. If that is the case, the university will decide whether or not to play individual student-athletes." Is this connected to the NCAA's ongoing inquiry into agent-related activity at UNC, or into anything else involving Tar Heel players or coaches? Not really, although it was uncovered through questioning in that investigation. The university is still "gathering facts" and so forth. But just so you're aware, there is a strong possibility that something of some indeterminately inappropriate nature happened here at an undisclosed point or points in the recent past.
Oh, and the wayward tutor did in fact work for coach Butch Davis, by his own admission, as an "academic coach" and "advisor" to his son:
"The tutor that is in question in this investigation is someone that has previously been employed by our family. She was one of five individuals over the course of the last three years, some within the university system and some outside the university system, that our family has employed to be an academic coach and an academic advisor."
That doesn't sound like a "nanny," as she was repeatedly described earlier today. But she was – gasp! – in the head coach's house. Possibly doing math!
Officially, the potential consequences for the Heels' Sept. 4 opener with LSU are still murky: No player has been named or suspended from the team. But the buzz coming out of UNC practices is generally categorizing the coming fallout in the "nuclear" category. At least nine players (and possibly as many as twelve) whose standing is in question have reportedly been relegated to the scout team as of Wednesday, at least a few of whom are big-name starters. So far, those names reportedly include All-America types Robert Quinn, Bruce Carter and of course Marvin Austin, the outgoing defensive tackle who – with his role at the center of ongoing inquiries into his alleged dealings with agents, trips to upscale California gyms, associations with former teammates now in the NFL and partying on South Beach – is well on his way to the scofflaw Hall of Fame as one of the most prolific NCAA delinquents in recent memory.
Over the last month, there's almost no rule in the labyrinthine NCAA rule book Austin hasn't been accused of breaking, or at least bending beyond recognition, in one way or another. And at this rate, the rest of the nation's most talented defense may going down right along with him before it ever sees the field.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.