It was not a good day for North Carolina fans. 13 players—including Chazz Surratt, who was tapped to be their next starting quarterback—were slapped with a suspension. 9 of the players will miss four games each, and the rest will miss a combined three games.
In January, the players received exclusive UNC Air Jordan 3’s. Per NCAA rules, it’s forbidden for players to sell gear. But that didn’t stop these players from dealing their shoes to a local business for as much as $2500. The Jordans were not intended to be sold to the public, but their debut on Instagram had fans clamoring to get their hands (and feet) on a pair.
Coach Larry Fedora expressed his disappointment in a statement. “I am certainly upset by our players’ actions and how their choices reflect on them, our program, and the university,” he said. “These young men knew the rules and are being held responsible for the poor choices they have made.”
Who’s on the Bench?
According to the statement from North Carolina, the players who will each sit out three games are offensive lineman Brian Anderson, defensive end Malik Carney, wide receiver Beau Corrales, defensive end Tomon Fox, defensive end Tyrone Hopper, offensive lineman Quiron Johnson, linebaker Malik Robinson, offensive lineman Jordan Tucker, and quarterback Chazz Surratt.
Defensive backs Greg ross and Tre Shaw will both miss two games. Offensive lineman Jonah Melton will miss one, as will quarterback Jack Davidson.
The NCAA approved the team’s request to stagger suspensions because multiple players share the same position. Carney will sit out the games against ECU, UCF, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech. Fox will sit out again Miami, Syracuse, Virginia, and Georgia Tech. For everyone else on the list, the suspensions begin on September 1st with the season opener at Cal.
Not the First Tussle with NCAA Rules
The university was under investigation for years over potential academic fraud. In a bizarre twist, because the fraud was so widespread, it actually saved UNC from serious sanctions. The NCAA concluded that while the student-athletes did benefit from certain courses in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, so did other students. In essence, the organization couldn’t prove that UNC had rigged the system specifically to pass their star athletes, so they got away with a slap on the wrist.
A Silver Lining
Fans were hopeful that after a disappointing 2017, North Carolina would be back on top this season. It can’t be seen as anything but a setback. But the Heels may still be able to recover from the suspensions. They have a month to prepare, and although the loss of Surratt is a blow, the team can work around it. Most of those suspended were not starting players. The Tar Heels suspended will not be disqualified for the entire season, per NCAA rules, so they’ll be back on the field soon enough.