GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) It's been nearly two years since the NCAA first filed charges tied to North Carolina's long-running academic scandal yet the case has yet to reach the hearing that ultimately leads to a ruling and long-awaited resolution.
It's just another example of how these investigations can take winding roads full of procedural potholes, delays and even backpedaling in a process that can mire schools in damaging uncertainty.
''Having the process hang over your institution as a cloud in public is in and of itself a penalty, regardless of what the formal findings by the Committee on Infractions or the infractions appeals committee turn out to be,'' said Stu Brown, an Atlanta-based attorney who has worked with schools on compliance issues.
''And therefore, I think it is correct to presume that Carolina would like to have this cloud removed from them, meaning the ongoing process.''
Perhaps it's a sign of how long this case has lingered - or fatigue with it - that the topic didn't come up during NCAA President Mark Emmert's annual news conference at the Final Four on Thursday, unlike last year. The focus was on another story from that state: the rollback of the so-called ''bathroom bill'' that limited protections for LGBT people and led the NCAA to strip several championship events from the state.
The case at UNC - which is in a second straight Final Four - grew as an offshoot of a 2010 probe into the football program and centers on irregularities in an academic department. Most notably, there were independent-study style courses misidentified as lecture classes that didn't meet, with athletes across numerous sports making up roughly half the enrollments.
The NCAA reopened its investigation in 2014 and charged UNC in a Notice of Allegations (NOA) filed in May 2015. It then revised the charges last April, and then changed them again in a third NOA filed in December.
The case is currently in yet another delay as the attorney for a woman at the center of the scandal said he is working to set up an interview after she had previously refused to speak with investigators.
''I get these questions from clients all the time: `Hey, can we time the decision to be released in a certain timespan?''' said Michael L. Buckner, a Florida-based attorney who has worked on infractions cases. ''I said, `No, that's impossible to do.' You can't predict when these cases are released because of all the moving parts.''
Here are some other infractions cases that lingered for years:
MISSISSIPPI: The NCAA began a long-running investigation in 2012 after a university probe discovered academic and recruiting misconduct involving the women's basketball program. Ole Miss later acknowledged the investigation had spread to the football, and track and field programs. While the women's basketball and track and field portion of the case was settled last year, the football case is pending with the program facing 21 violations in a case that could easily drag into 2018.
SYRACUSE: The NCAA punished Syracuse in March 2015 after an investigation that took nearly eight years to complete. In its 94-page report, the governing body detailed a pattern of academic misconduct and extra benefits and said the university failed to enforce its drug-testing policy. The penalties included scholarship reductions and a one-year postseason ban for the men's basketball program along with a nine-game suspension for longtime coach Jim Boeheim.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The NCAA investigated improper benefits tied to former football star and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush as well as former basketball player O.J. Mayo. That investigation lasted roughly four years before sanctions came down, leading to years of fallout that included a defamation lawsuit by former running backs coach Todd McNair against the NCAA.
AP Sports Writers David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, and John Kekis in Syracuse, New York contributed to this report.
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