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Court Nixes Linebacker’s UNC Honor Code Claims

(CN) - A Baltimore Ravens linebacker had his lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the University of North Carolina sacked by an appeals court.

Michael McAdoo joined the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2008 out of Antioch, Tenn., as a highly recruited linebacker.

During a June 2010 investigation of improper benefits to players from sports agents, the NCAA found that McAdoo had unwittingly received $99 worth of benefits for a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., for a hotel stay and a nightclub cover charge.

UNC then raised academic honesty concerns after finding that McAdoo had received help on a paper for a summer Swahili class from his sometime tutor Jennifer Wiley.

McAdoo had emailed Wiley included a list of eight websites and one book, and wrote "the words in bold is what needs to be sited (sic)."

Wiley finished the footnotes and Works Cited sections of the paper and sent it back to McAdoo.

She wrote: "I think I did this right...I used APA citations for the bold stuff, and I made the works cited for all those websites...hope this helps!"

UNC benched McAdoo for the first three games of the 2010 season, reported its decision to the NCAA and referred the charges to the school honor court. After the student-run court found him guilty of one violation, it sanctioned him with academic probation, which made him ineligible to play that season.

After the NCAA found McAdoo permanently ineligible to play, UNC appealed for reinstatement, stating that McAdoo did not "knowingly" violate college NCAA bylaws.

"He was essentially accepting the help that Jennifer was offering," the school argued.

McAdoo made a similar plea: "I never thought for a second that we were ever breaking any rules. I was working hard and she was there to make sure I was on the right track."

The NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement remained unconvinced.

"Mr. McAdoo did take deliberate action and knew what he was doing," the committee ruled.

Ineligible to play in his senior year of 2011, McAdoo turned pro. He signed a $270,000 free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens. He appeared on the roster in 2011 but did not get into a game.

McAdoo was sidelined for the 2011 with a knee injury, and his 2012 season was wiped out when he tore his Achilles tendon over the summer.

He is not on Ravens active' roster for Super Bowl XVII on Feb. 3.

McAdoo sued the NCAA, the university and its chancellor, H. Holden Thorp, for negligence, libel, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. He alleged that if he had been allowed to play for the Tar Heels in 2011, he would have been selected in the 2012 NFL draft or would have signed a pro contract.

A Durham County judge dismissed McAdoo's case on the ground that the controversy was not justiciable, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed last week.

"Plaintiff did not raise any justiciable issues under the Athletics Scholarship Agreement because (i) he has not stated facts making out a prima facie breach of the ASA as an express contract; (ii) his alleged injury is too hypothetical and speculative to provide him with standing; and (iii) his claims are now moot," Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr. wrote for a three-member panel.

"It is clear that the actions of UNC, Thorp and the NCAA did not prevent Plaintiff from pursuing a professional football career," he added, noting that McAdoo also did not lose his scholarship.

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