"While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called "paper courses" offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were exclusively created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes", said Greg Sankey, the panel's chief hearing officer and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.
The panel noted that its ability to determine whether academic fraud occurred at UNC was limited by the NCAA principle relying on individual member schools to determine whether academic fraud occurred on their own campuses.
At the heart of the matter was whether athletes were given extra benefits and if the school failed to monitor personnel within the athletic department who provided those extra benefits. North Carolina said the work was assigned, completed, turned in and graded, often by the former secretary, under the professor's guidelines. "Additionally, the record did not establish that the university created and offered the courses as part of a systemic effort to benefit only student-athletes".
"The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts is that the Department of Athletics at the University of Chapel Hill took advantage of "fake classes" in the department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible". They were identified as lecture classes, but the classes didn't actually meet.
In a 2014 investigation, former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes across numerous sports making up roughly half the enrollments.
South Korean court extends detention of ex-president Park Geun-hye
Lee was convicted of bribery, embezzlement and other charges for bribing Park in return for political favors on August 25. But the scandal that emerged late previous year unleashed nationwide fury, even among many of her conservative supporters.
The NCAA originally treated some of the academic issues as improper benefits by saying athletes received access to the courses and other assistance generally unavailable to non-athletes.
The scandal was so serious that the university's accreditation body briefly placed the institution on probation. UNC's argument, which will likely be the crux of their appeal, is that the NCAA is overstepping their jurisdiction.
When athletics academic counselors exploit "special arrangement" classes for student-athletes in ways unintended by and contrary to the bylaws, it is the NCAA's business. The accurate figure is less than 30 percent, the school said.
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