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UNC AD: Syracuse sanctions have no impact on UNC’s NCAA case

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham says the NCAA’s punishment of Syracuse has no bearing on the ongoing academic-misconduct case at UNC.

”The enforcement staff and the committee on infractions have always said no two cases are alike,” Cunningham said Friday night. ”They evaluate the facts of each case independently, and I’m sure they’re going to continue to do that in our case. And our case is vastly different than that case.”

Earlier Friday, the NCAA sanctioned Syracuse for academic, drug and gifts violations committed primarily by the men’s basketball team. Among the punishments: Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine Atlantic Coast Conference games next year, while the school faces financial penalties, scholarship reductions, vacated wins and five years of probation.

The NCAA last summer reopened its investigation academic misconduct in Chapel Hill, a case rooted in a 2010 probe into the football program that later grew into the school’s long-running academic fraud scandal. Cunningham wouldn’t comment on specifics of UNC’s case in accordance with NCAA rules, saying only that it was an ”ongoing” and there is no timeline for its completion.

The focus is courses in UNC’s formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department, which were often treated as independent studies that required no class time and one or two research papers.

An investigation conducted by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein outlined how an AFAM office administrator – not a faculty member – typically handed out assignments then high grades after only a scan of the work, regardless of the quality. Wainstein’s October report found the fraud ran from 1993 to 2011 and affected more than 3,100 students, roughly half being athletes.

UNC also faces questions from its accreditation agency, while the fraud case has led to several lawsuits from ex-UNC athletes against the school or NCAA.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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