The North Carolina football program has not enjoyed the success that the basketball team has, but it has attracted some top talent and produced a number of NFL players including Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers, Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, Giants defensive tackle Marvin Austin, and Packers center Jeff Saturday among many, many more.
Once the NCAA finishes its current investigation, the Tar Heels may have trouble attracting a towel boy to come to the team.
The problems began back during the Butch Davis era (2006-10). An investigation uncovered wide-spread academic misconduct along (13 players served suspensions) as well as players receiving improper benefits from sports agents. Three players ended up being permanently banned due to the latter, wide receiver Gregg Little, defensive end Robert Quinn, and defensive tackle Marvin Austin (all whom are now in the NFL).
In a move intended to help restore the good name of the school head coach Butch Davis was fired and the university vacated all wins from the 2008 and '09 seasons. However, as the school continues to investigate suspected misconduct it may find itself having to vacate so much more.
It appears that a number of athletes, primarily football players, had been taking classes that either didn't exist or existed as a mere formality to help the boost their grade point averages. So far 54 classes in African and Afro-American Studies from the summer of 2007 to the summer of '11 have come under question with suspected cases of poor/no oversight, unauthorized grade changes, little to no class time, and forged faculty signatures.
Of the students taking those classes, 58 percent of the students enrolled were athletes, and over a third were football players. There is now a chance that the improprieties have been going on even longer than the investigation initially suspected. The recently leaked transcript of former Tar Heels defensive standout Julius Peppers has raised suspicion that the problem has been going on much longer than originally thought.
Peppers took a number of classes in the department from 1998-2001 when he was playing basketball and football for the school. In all but one of the classes the high marks were integral in keeping him academically eligible. While Peppers insists that he earned each and every grade, the university has been prompted to conduct a much deeper investigation.
Should the trail go back as far as Pepper's time at the university the possible sanctions could end up being quite severe. It would not be shocking to see the school vacate more losses, lose scholarships, and possibly receive a post season ban. Should that happen the team will have a hard time attracting talent in the near future making it hard to see many or any Tar Heels heading into the NFL in the years to come.