UPDATED, 5:40 p.m.
DURHAM — Michael McAdoo’s attempt to return to the North Carolina football team may be over after a Durham Superior Court judge denied his request for an injunction against the NCAA and UNC that would have restored his eligibility.
McAdoo had asked the court to intervene because he contended that the NCAA had declared him permanently ineligible based on inaccurate information provided by the university.
Judge Orlando Hudson, after a hearing that lasted more than two hours, found that McAdoo’s claim did not meet the standards required for an injunction, and that it was “not likely he would suffer irreparable loss if not imposed.”
While McAdoo's request for an injunction that would allow him to play this fall was denied, his lawyer, Noah Huffstetler, said the overall case against the NCAA and UNC will proceed.
McAdoo was ruled ineligible last fall for accepting improper assistance from tutor Jennifer Wiley, a central figure in the NCAA’s investigation of the North Carolina football program, as well as $95 worth of improper benefits from an agent.
Huffstetler argued that while North Carolina reported three violations to the NCAA, the school’s own Honor Court found him guilty of only one, and the NCAA “stubbornly and inexplicably” chose to ignore the new information.
For that violation, which involved improper help from Wiley with a citations page on a research paper, McAdoo was suspended from school for a semester. When the paper in question was published with the court filings, a number of passages were discovered to have been plagiarized from other sources.
Attorney Paul Sun, representing the NCAA, hinted at the plagiarism in his argument Wednesday, referring to “more recent information that blatant plagiarism has occurred,” and threatening to “expose that fully on that front if we need to.”
At one point, Sun repeatedly called McAdoo, who was sitting with his lawyers at the plaintiff's table, a cheater.
"It just comes down to cheating," Sun said. "That's what happened here."
The university, meanwhile, found itself “caught in the middle,” as Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Brennan put it.
“The university has said consistently that the penalty imposed was too harsh,” Brennan said. “We appealed (to the NCAA) and lost. … As a member of the NCAA, we have to respect the decision and have the obligation to comply with it.”
An affidavit filed Wednesday by UNC associate athletics director for compliance Amy Herman indicated that the university was willing to keep McAdoo on scholarship and offer him a position as a student coach for the 2011 season. Huffstetler said that offer “had not been emphasized” in previous discussions with the school.
North Carolina is currently preparing a response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations covering numerous violations and has a hearing scheduled with the NCAA in Indianapolis in October.
“We respect the court’s decision," North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour said in a statement released by the school. "We agree with the court that these kinds of issues should be decided within the framework of the institution and the NCAA. It is disappointing any time a student-athlete can no longer compete in his or her chosen sport, but we will support Michael (McAdoo) and encourage him to finish his education at the University of North Carolina.
"Carolina is an NCAA member institution and we understand and work within the processes that the NCAA has in place to resolve eligibility and compliance issues. We support those processes and will continue to move forward over these next months to address all of the matters before the NCAA.”
Huffstetler said McAdoo was aware that it would be difficult to obtain injunctive relief, but this was the most likely way to get McAdoo eligible in time for the football season.
“We continue to maintain that Mr. McAdoo was unfairly treated,” Huffstetler said. “Whether it was the university’s responsibility or the NCAA’s isn’t the most significant point. We do think that the NCAA has tremendous authority and power to affect the lives of young men and women who play intercollegiate sports. What happened today just illustrates how much power the NCAA does have and how very difficult it is to challenge one of their decisions once it’s made.”