UNC let the NCAA have unprecedented access to the university (ie, bent over) and that allowed them to become the face of everything wrong with college athletics. Between the incompetence of Thorp, the terrible PR job, and several other factors, what happened has become so out of control and everyone has become misinformed on the issue that it's impossible to do any damage control. You have people from the News and Observer, to ESPN, to NPR spreading proven false information. Willingham has been demonstrated a liar. She has no credibility anymore, and yet somehow people still cling to her words from years ago. What happened at Syracuse is worse than what happened athletically at UNC. Still when Syrcause got their sanctions, all the national media talk was about UNC. And not in a good way. Certainly UNC being the athletic program and academic institution it is (and it is one of the best public universities in America) has put particularly large target on their back and they handled it about as terribly as you could possibly have done.
Mark Emmert basically said the NCAA has little to no jurisdiction over the matter because it was an academic scandal. He said as much about a week ago when comparing what happened at Syracuse with North Carolina, he said the same around the Final Four, and at least 2 other times. His initial comments were completely inappropriate and he's been backtracking ever since. Anyway, 1) The courses were not created for the benefit for the athletes (there's no evidence proving it). 2) While it was known they were easy classes, every study done on the matter has proven athletes weren't steered to those classes because they would get a more favorable grade over non-athletes. 3) Again, the classes were NOT only for student-athletes. All students were able to take the classes, and many did. Not only did many non-athletes take the classes, they account for for the majority of the population of those classes. They all didn't receive "A" grades either. Furthermore, the SACS has not and seems like will not suspend accreditation. Meaning those classes technically were/are in fact real.
This is the article on Emmert's recent comments:
Don't misunderstand me. Embarrassing doesn't being to describe what happened. Although anyone who went college can attest that there are easy courses at every single university. I took the equivalent of a "paper class". Nonetheless, what the AFAM department did is unquestionably wrong. Sticking to men's basketball side, since that's what we are discussing here, the Wainstein Report did not turn up any instances where athletic advisers suggested grades for the athletes. Obviously, which if proven they did and if the professor went through with it, then the NCAA would then be able to count that as impermissible benefits and thus have the jurisdiction. Alas they didn't and they don't.
Because the classes are "legitimate" and, as of now, there's no connection between the men's basketball program advising their athletes to take AFAM courses to protect eligibility, the NCAA really has little they can claim to. But... The media, and thus their misinformed audience, for some reason will not budge on their incorrect predetermined narrative and in the end the NCAA is the NCAA. Logic and the NCAA do not go hand in hand as they have proven time and time again. The peer pressure isn't helping either.
Based on all the information to this point, I think UNC men's basketball gets something. Hammered? No. Unless the NCAA wants to start adjudicating on what is a quality education. Which will open up a can of worm so big it will bury them.
And UNC is getting negative recruiting unlike anything I have ever seen or heard of. Unacceptable? Roy is recruiting a climate where he goes all in on certain recruits and still loses them to South Carolina and VCU. Do you know who coaches South Carolina? That's like choosing to play under Mike Leech on a team that wins 12 games a year. Roy has no chance until the NCAA gives their notice and because of how long the NCAA is taking, it's essentially death by a thousand paper cuts right now.