UNC players could face campus Honor Court

Posted October 12, 2010 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2010 6:29 p.m. EDT

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— Some suspended University of North Carolina football players could face a student-run disciplinary system as part of a university investigation into allegations of academic misconduct.

Seven players remain suspended while the NCAA and UNC determine their eligibility. Parallel investigations are being conducted into alleged dealings with sports agents and academic violations.

UNC has suspended safety Jonathan Smith for the full season, and the others who remain on the sidelines are defensive ends Linwall Euwell and Michael McAdoo, safety Brian Gupton, tailback Ryan Houston, fullback Davon Ramsay and cornerback Charles Brown.

University officials won't disclose which player is being questioned as part of each investigation.

The three players dismissed from the UNC football team on Monday – defensive tackle Marvin Austin, wide receiver Greg Little and defensive end Robert Quinn – were punished for receiving trips and jewelry from agents and then lying about it. None was involved in the academic violation probe, according to Athletics Director Dick Baddour.

If the university finds evidence of academic misconduct involving a player, his case will be referred to the Honor Court on campus, Chancellor Holden Throp said last week.

The student-run tribunal investigates possible violations of UNC's 29-page honor code. The code includes such infractions as plagiarism, falsifying information and helping others cheat, as well as lesser known offenses like conduct that harms the university's integrity.

Students said Tuesday that some professors take the honor code so seriously that they require those in their classes to sign an honor policy for each homework assignment and before every exam.

"Comparable to a court of law is what we try to do in the Honor Court," said Alexis Ivey, a UNC senior who served on the panel for two semesters.

A defendant is represented, and witnesses can be called during a hearing, Ivey said.

"After we hear all the evidence and the witnesses, things like that, we vote on whether we find the defendant guilty or not guilty, and the process works from there," she said.

The Honor Court can sentence students, and the code outlines penalties for specific violations. The most serious penalties, including expulsion, have to be approved by the chancellor.

If a student appeals the decision of the Honor Court, faculty and staff get involved in the process.

None of the 65 current members of the Honor Court, who are chosen through an application process, would speak with WRAL News.

At a recent UNC Board of Governors meeting, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said he believes fellow students can be objective when ruling on high-profile football players.

"I am absolutely comfortable that these athletes are being treated the same way we treat every student," Crisp said.

UNC students said they trust the Honor Court to do the right thing in cases of football players that may come before them.

"As long as they are making good decisions, it's not a problem, whether it be adults or students," freshman Caleb Goodnight said.

"I think that it's tricky, but I have a lot of faith in my fellow UNC students, and I think that they are capable of making those sorts of decisions," senior Malia Losordo said.

"We try to go into it with an open mind, although we are fellow Tar Heels. We are all held to the same standards," Ivey said.

Thorp told the Board of Governors last week that he expects the Honor Court to wrap up its hearings in the coming weeks. The panel meets every day this week and next Monday and Tuesday.