Four Football Players Suspended; UNC Probing Preseason Incident

On the same day the news media reported that UNC was investigating a hazing incident during preseason football practice, Coach Larry Fedora suspended four defensive backfield players from the first game of the season for violating unspecified team rules.

Sources told the website Yahoo Sports that in the first week of August, freshman nonscholarship player Jackson Boyer sustained a concussion in an incident involving multiple teammates at a Chapel Hill hotel where the team was staying during preseason camp. Boyer is listed in the media guide as a redshirt freshman wide receiver from Chapel Hill — a sophomore academically.

Kevin Best ’93, deputy director of sports information in the athletics department, issued this statement: “We are aware of an incident involving members of the UNC football team that took place earlier this month. We take this allegation seriously, and the University is conducting a thorough review.”

A University spokesperson said the Office of Student Affairs was handling the investigation. Best’s statement did not use the word “hazing.” Officials in Student Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

The story became public Aug. 27, and on that afternoon Fedora announced the suspensions of Desmond Lawrence, Donnie Miles, M.J. Stewart and Brian Walker. Lawrence and Walker were listed as starters for the Aug. 30 game with Liberty.

The University “expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk,” according to a policy statement.

Hazing is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. The policy on hazing states, “It is unlawful for any student in attendance at any university, college, or school in this State to engage in hazing, or to aid or abet any other student in the commission of this offense.” It defines hazing as subjecting “another student to physical injury as part of an initiation, or as a prerequisite to membership, into any organized school group, including any society, athletic team, fraternity or sorority, or other similar group.”

This comes as the University awaits completion of the latest in a series of investigations of academic fraud issues and their possible ties to the athletics department stemming from an NCAA probe into other irregularities in the football program that started four years ago.

The NCAA in June reopened its investigation of UNC after the UNC-initiated review by independent counsel Kenneth Wainstein and a team of investigators drew the cooperation of key University figures who had not cooperated with previous probes.

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