SEC commissioner Greg Sankey denies request to step down in UNC’s NCAA case

Greg Sankey will stay as head of the NCAA infractions panel handling UNC’s case. (AP)
Greg Sankey will stay as head of the NCAA infractions panel handling UNC’s case. (AP)

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will remain as head of the NCAA infractions panel handling North Carolina’s academic case after denying a request seeking his removal, according to the Associated Press.

From the AP:

Sankey stated in an April 14 letter obtained by The Associated Press that the panel would “fairly decide this case.”

“The panel, including me, will hear and decide this case based on the case record and the membership’s bylaws,” Sankey wrote to all involved parties.

Elliot Abrams — a Raleigh attorney representing a retired office administrator charged with violations — had written the NCAA saying Sankey had a “personal, professional and institutional interest” in the outcome as SEC commissioner while comparing it to “refereeing a championship game between an (Atlantic Coast Conference) team and an SEC team.”

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UNC is facing a lack of institutional control, among several other heavy charges, in the long investigation into sham classes.

Abrams wrote the NCAA in March saying that his client, Deborah Crowder — who graded many of the papers for the classes in question — was willing to talk with investigators for the first time. Abrams wrote the NCAA last week saying that the NCAA’s third Notice of Allegations to UNC should be tossed out, citing pressure from a conflicted panel and a lack of allowed preparation time for an April 14 deadline for Crowder to interview.

“The NCAA claims that no appearance of a conflict of interest exists and that the hearing panel did not direct the enforcement staff to issue the third Notice of Allegations,” Abrams said in a statement to the AP. “Interestingly, the NCAA attempts to keep these assertions from public view, even though its letter is plainly a public record.

“These positions intensify our concerns that the NCAA does not feel bound by its bylaws and that this process is merely a show designed to reach a predetermined result. Nevertheless, Ms. Crowder looks forward to correcting the record by giving an interview in the next few weeks.”

The NCAA Committee on Infractions issued a statement Friday to the AP on Friday saying that “committee composition is appropriate.”

“Rules put in place and supported by our membership call for confidentiality in infractions cases and the continued leaks of partial and inaccurate information in this case are disappointing,” the committee stated.

A UNC spokeswoman told the AP that the school will make its case to the panel on the NCAA’s schedule.

UNC must respond to its latest charges by May 16, according to Sankey’s letter. From there, the NCAA enforcement staff has until July 17 to respond, with Sankey writing that his panel’s “anticipated” hearing dates are Aug. 16 and 17.

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Matt Fortuna is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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