Well, it appears that while the idea of Carolina going to the SEC in conference realignment was a pipe dream, UNC has decided to start acting like an SEC school anyways, as the football program is currently under investigation by the NCAA.
All kidding aside, though, a lot of Tar Heel fans and people within the athletic program have to be a bit nervous this morning. According to Inside Carolina, the investigation centers around possible illegal benefits given to UNC players that were eligible to enter the 2010 NFL draft but chose to return:
Inside Carolina has learned that the NCAA investigation surrounding the UNC football program centers on improper benefits provided to the NFL Draft prospects that elected to come back for the 2010 season. The NCAA inquired about benefits that included rent, jewelry and travel.
The investigation includes seniors Marvin Austin, a defensive tackle, and Greg Little, a wide receiver, but is not limited to them. The NFL Draft prospects in question weren’t the only ones interviewed by the NCAA representatives.
What most fans are hoping for at this point is that even if some minor sins were committed, punishment will come in nothing more than a small slap on the wrist - maybe paying back whatever benefits a player received - because even a small suspension could seriously hurt the heels as they open the season against LSU in Atlanta, where they will likely need every bit of star power they can muster against Les Miles’ Tigers.
Jim Young over at the ACC Sports Journal also does a great job highlighting the supplementary points with this issue, including the fact that, after the recent USC Reggie Bush fiasco, this is a bad time to have “agent issues” as the NCAA may be hyper-sensitive on the topic. He also mentions that it’s unfair to prematurely point the finger at Butch Davis (as many people were eager to do on Twitter last night) because of his association with Miami’s football program. Lest we forget, Butch is the guy who cleaned up The U after Dennis Erickson landed them in a lot of hot water.
For the time being, all Carolina fans can do is sit and wait anxiously for more news to come out - hopefully, as Tar Heel Fan notes, everyone is still eligible come September.