Poll: How Should the NCAA Punish Academic Violations?

It’s been more than five years since whistleblowers uncovered extensive academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill. Now, the NCAA has released its third notice of allegations against the school. But, so far, there have been no official sanctions.

Other schools have been less fortunate. Many have faced swift punishment from the NCAA for academic misconduct. The severity of the sanctions has varied widely.

Notre Dame football will be hit with a range of NCAA sanctions for academic misconduct in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The NCAA found that during those years, nine Notre Dame football players received academic help that “went beyond the rules.” One sanction will be to vacate wins in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The University of Missouri imposed sanctions on its own men’s basketball team after evidence of academic violations was found. To those sanctions, the NCAA added one year of probation. And at Campbell University, the NCAA discovered eligibility issues with transfer students in ten sports over five years. For those violations, the NCAA placed Campbell on probation.

Officially, the NCAA uses a four-level violation structure to help determine punishments. But critics claim that punishments are more arbitrary. NCAA sanctions can range from a slap on the wrist to a serious obstacle to future sports recruitment, success, and income.

Many have argued that the NCAA treats powerhouse programs, such as men’s basketball at UNC-Chapel Hill, too leniently. For two years after Michael McAdoo first sued the university, the NCAA seemed unlikely to punish UNC in any way for its ongoing academic fraud. Although the NCAA later reversed course, the perception lingered that Tar Heel Basketball was “above the law.”

The NCAA still hasn’t issued its final verdict on the scandal.

What do you think of NCAA sanctions? Take the poll below.


  • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

    Is there a site that aggregates academic fraud related to athletics? FSU had a problem similar to UNC-Chapel Hill, of much shorter duration, that also went undetected by the accreditor.

    The emphasis on vacating wins doesn’t mean anything to me, but that is because I am not a fan of college sports. This seems more like an academic issue to me, so revoking degrees and having graduates then sue the school makes more sense to me. The lapse is with academic oversight, not coaches.

  • Mike Chandler

    The incentive towards academic fraud to enhance athlete eligibility at schools is driven by a “sports first” mentality: the school enjoys the huge amounts of money and prestige that winning programs can generate. They make millions not only off of TV money and ticket sales, but also off of merchandising, alumni and fan donations, advertising and licensing, etc. This mentality is fomented and aggravated by the support of sports-mad booster clubs and alumni organizations who enjoy basking in the reflected glory of successful sports programs and bragging rights around the water cooler at work. What is particulary disgusting about the bogus class scheme at UNC is that they, in effect, exploited their own student-athletes by making huge money off their athletic abilities while depriving them of a chance at the genuine college education those students were promised when they accepted their scholarships.

    As long as the potential benefits of fraud and misconduct far ourweigh the potential consequences, there is no effective incentive for schools not to cheat other than relying on their inherent honesty and integrity. If the school, its alumni, and boosters value “sports first”, the only true disincentive is to sanction them hard in that which they care about: the sports programs. Strip away past fraudulently-earned victories and titles and also sanction sports programs going into the future in the form of post-season bans, recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions, hefty fines, and serious probation and monitoring. Without these strong measures, the sports-crazy schools and boosters will think the risks of cheating are “worth it” and will continue to make that deal with the devil every time, to the detriment of fair play, good sportsmanship, and, most of all, to the detriment of their own student-athletes, honor, and integrity.

  • Jm Edwards

    The only real remedy is a “death penalty” of a period of 2 to 4 years, otherwise they will continue with this behavior. Allow all athletes immediate transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year. Forfeiture of any win achieved with ineligible athlete(s) is a given, starting with the year 1988.

  • DrOfnothing

    We have a wider culture that demands and rewards success at any cost. Why should college sports be any different?

    I’m very surprised that the same website which constantly calls for universities to be more “market-oriented” in their operations, to treat students like “customers,” and to participate in a “market-place of ideas” somehow draws the line at sports. Why shouldn’t college sports follow the same ideology that the PC advocates for colleges themselves? And why shouldn’t they, like businesses, see those pesky regulations as an inconvenience to be avoided rather than a standard to be respected?

    Above all, why is the PC constantly calling for deregulation in every other aspect of university operations, but is somehow the champion of regulations and “statism” in this one area?

    If the PC opposes the entire edifice of college sports, that’s a legitimate stance. They distract from the academic mission, they clearly foster the admission of unqualified students, and they foster corruption (which follows money like stink on . . . .). If that’s the case, then just say so. Otherwise, this seems like hypocrisy.

    • FullReporting

      “They distract from the academic mission…”

      Why the sweeping commentary about student-athletes when in fact the issue, typically, surrounds “revenue” sports? Why the prejudice against the hard working, world class talent in many “non-revenue” sports who graduate in 4 years, represent our country in the Olympics, are role models for youth, make the Dean’s list, have an overall team GPA average GE 3.00, and go on to contribute to our society as stellar citizens?

      Some of your posts in the past have made good arguments, some not. Your drum beat against PC should not be used to sweep in the majority of student-athletes who are highly qualified and do the right thing — day in and day out.

      Hope 2017 finds the opportunity to parse arguments a bit more fairly.

      • DrOfnothing

        Apologies, I should be a bit more specific. I try to take a comparative look at the issue of university sports in the US and the UK. My criticism is _never_ against the student-athletes themselves, but rather against “sports culture,” which has its unhealthy aspects in both countries. In the UK, it can foster hooliganism and general nonsense. However, with the exception of very few schools there, sports is nothing more than a healthy recreation. At the _majority_ of US universities, in comparison, they are the absolute center of campus life and identity. To my mind, universities are, first and foremost, places of learning and scholarship. Students, and American students in particular, need to exercise, but I don’t think that should be part of the university’s mission. It’s a place to train minds, not bodies.

  • Real Deal

    The Pope Center has changed its name but still misses the point in its journalistic pursuits. The bigger issues are: Why didn’t NC DOJ and others pursue criminal charges against UNC employees involved in this mess? After all, athletes weren’t the only UNC students who benefited. Where is the NC Auditor’s report? Administrators and others at UNC, WSSU, and the UNC system should have been arrested pursuant to NCGS 14-453 through 14-459. The Holder/Lynch U.S. DOJ didn’t pursue the criminal investigation of WSSU grade change scandal but the Trump Administration will. We hope your future stories will focus on ALL relevant issues. -The Real Deal