The University of North Carolina is investigating what it describes as “an incident” and what Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday reported was hazing among members of the football team that turned into an alleged assault.
The website reported that Jackson Boyer, a non-scholarship wide receiver from Chapel Hill, sustained a concussion during an alleged altercation at his room at the A-Loft Hotel near campus, where the team stayed during preseason camp.
Kevin Best, a UNC football team spokesman, released a statement in which he said the university was “aware of an incident involving members” of the football team.
“We take this allegation seriously and the university is conducting a thorough review,” Best said.
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Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, declined to comment on UNC’s investigation when approached on Monday night at Top of the Hill restaurant, where coach Larry Fedora was holding his first weekly radio show of the season. After the show ended, Fedora also said he couldn’t comment.
Asked why he couldn’t, he said, “I just can’t comment.”
Yahoo! Sports reported the alleged incident happened during the first week of August. Boyer, Fedora said on Tuesday, is still a member of the team and has been practicing recently.
UNC in recent years has been rocked by scandals, from an NCAA investigation that led to a postseason ban for football, to former high-profile athletes alleging academic impropriety to the dismissal of P.J. Hairston – the basketball team’s leading scorer two seasons ago – because of impermissible benefits, to wide-ranging problems in African- and Afro-American Studies Department.
The NCAA recently reopened its investigation into academic misconduct involving the relationship between suspect AFAM courses and the athletic department. The status of that investigation, and when it might be complete, is unclear.
Amid those issues, the university at times has received criticism for a perceived lack of transparency, and Carol Folt, who is entering her second full academic year as the UNC Chancellor, wrote a public letter in the summer outlining the university’s commitment to increased transparency. Fedora denied the notion that he was being secretive amid the hazing allegation.
“Nobody’s saying secrecy is the best policy,” he said after his radio show. “We issued a statement today and that’s it. That’s the statement. I don’t think it’s secrecy. I mean, you know how I am, I don’t even talk about the quarterbacks (competition). So I haven’t changed.”
The university has a clear anti-hazing policy. The policy, posted on the university website, reads, in part, “UNC expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk.”
Boyer’s mother, Kimber, did not return a phone message seeking comment on Tuesday. Boyer is a sophomore with four years of eligibility remaining. He walked onto the team at UNC last season after graduating from East Chapel Hill High.
Fedora said he didn’t know when UNC’s investigation into the alleged hazing might be complete.
“When I can say something, I’m sure I will say something,” he said. “But right now I can’t.”