March 29, 2017

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) A federal judge has granted the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's request to dismiss the school from a lawsuit filed by two former Tar Heels athletes tied to its multiyear academic scandal.

In a Wednesday ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta C. Biggs stated the school had 11th Amendment immunity as an arm of the state that prevented it from being sued in federal court. The plaintiffs were former football player Michael McAdoo and former women's basketball player Kenya McBee.

Jeremi Duru, an attorney on the case, didn't immediately return a call for comment. UNC spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement the school was ''pleased and grateful'' for Biggs' decision.

McAdoo filed his class-action lawsuit in November 2014 amid the scandal tied to irregular courses in an academic department popular with athletes. McBee signed on months later.

Biggs heard arguments last April as well as in a separate lawsuit filed by former football player Devon Ramsay and ex-women's basketball player Rashanda McCants. That lawsuit included the NCAA as a defendant, but Biggs granted the governing body's motion to dismiss it from the lawsuit in August.

Biggs had stayed UNC's motion to dismiss in that case while she dealt with the arm-of-the-state issues from the McAdoo-McBee case. It's unclear how Wednesday's order will affect the pending issue in the Ramsay-McCants lawsuit.

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