Roy Williams not sweating academic fraud allegations at UNC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams said Wednesday that he's unconcerned about the ongoing NCAA investigation of the school complicating a promising season for the Tar Heels.

"No, because it's been so bad already," Williams said in an interview with Yahoo Sports and ESPN. "It can't be any worse than it is. Every step we take is a move toward completion. That's the best way to look at it."

Roy Williams recently signed a contract extension to remain at UNC through 2020. (AP)
Roy Williams recently signed a contract extension to remain at UNC through 2020. (AP)

North Carolina could begin the 2015-16 season ranked No. 1. But the season will play out in concurrence with the latter stages of an NCAA investigation that may finally bring closure to an academic scandal in the African and Afro-American Studies program at the school that spanned 18 years.

The NCAA delivered a notice of allegations to UNC in May, alleging five major rules violations – the most significant being a lack of institutional control. North Carolina is preparing its response to those allegations. A hearing before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions could occur late in 2015 or early 2016.

Williams is not named in any of the violations.

"I'm still ticked off that we're in a problem to begin with," Williams said. "I'm embarrassed by it. I've said that publicly and I'm frustrated by it.

"But at the same time, I've said I felt very comfortable for a long time. We've been investigated by 73 people and all the 12 disciples of the Lord it feels like, and every one of them has said, 'Roy Williams didn't know anything about this; he didn't do anything.'

"There was a sense of relief, but it's what I expected. It wasn't big relief because it's what I thought was going to be there. But how can you say it's relief when there are five allegations against your university, very serious things, how can it be a lot of relief? I did feel very strongly, very comfortably … we didn't do anything. In fact, I've gotten some credit for moving away from the AFAM majors and classes and we did, but it wasn't because I did anything wrong."

Athletic director Bubba Cunningham believes strongly enough in Williams that last week he gave him a contract extension through 2020.

"Roy has done a great job leading our program," Cunningham told Yahoo Sports. "I think he attracts outstanding students. This place is so meaningful to him, and we really want this to be the last place he coaches. I think it's the right thing to do."

Cunningham said the extension was not in response to the NCAA findings and the lack of any allegations against Williams.

"We started this conversation last summer," Cunningham said. "I'm glad we got it done and it's out and public now."

Williams said he does not see the contract extension as a personal validation.

"It's not to me," he said. "You know what it is, my friends have really taken a shot and so for some ways, it's even better for them than it is for me. … They feel better about it. It really didn't mean that much to me, because I have felt doggone good, but it's really hard because it's almost a personal attack in some ways. That part has been hard."

Williams and North Carolina did eventually move their players out of the AFAM major – but the majority of the 2005 national championship team was in that major. When asked if he had concern about having that many players in a tainted area of study, Williams said no.

"They were juniors when I got here [in 2003]," Williams said. "I can't change their majors. Think about that."

He said the 2005 championship should not be vacated and that even if players were given no credit for the AFAM classes, they still would have been eligible.

"Even if you give a guy four Fs in that spring semester, he's still eligible,'' he said. "We didn't have ineligible players. They took courses that the university offered.''