CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina could be without as many as a dozen players to start the season due to secondary violations filed with the NCAA, a source close to the program told ESPN.
In a statement Wednesday night, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said the NCAA has deemed the violations to be secondary in severity and that the school has "taken appropriate disciplinary action." The statement didn't specify the nature of that action or the violations.
Team spokesman Bobby Hundley said the violations involve multiple players, but he wouldn't specify a number. When asked about possible suspensions, Hundley said "specifics have not been finalized," and he did not elaborate further.
WRAL TV in Raleigh first reported that the school has self-reported the violations to the NCAA, citing anonymous sources.
"We have high expectations of all of our students, coaches and staff, and we expect everyone to abide by and embrace team and NCAA rules," Cunningham said in the statement. "We are disappointed when we fall short, and we always strive to get better."
That statement came after coach Larry Fedora, defensive tackle Aaron Crawford and receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams appeared at the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason media days in Charlotte earlier in the afternoon. Fedora didn't reference the violations, though he caused a stir when he said he doesn't believe it has been proved that football causes the degenerative brain disease CTE and offered a passionate defense of a sport he believes is "under attack."
While this case involves secondary violations regarded as less severe, it comes less than a year after UNC finally emerged from a long stretch of serious NCAA issues after spending a large chunk of Cunningham's tenure dealing with top-level NCAA charges.
First, there was an investigation into the football program in 2010 for improper benefits and academic misconduct. That case -- which led to Cunningham's arrival from Tulsa in November 2011 -- ended when the NCAA issued sanctions in March 2012 that included a one-year postseason ban and scholarship reductions.
But that case led to the discovery of an even bigger concern: years of irregular courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department featuring significant athlete enrollments across numerous sports. That prompted questions from UNC's accreditation agency as well as a reopened NCAA investigation, which ultimately led to the NCAA charging UNC with five top-level violations that included lack of institutional control.
But after years of starts, stops and delays, that case reached a no-penalty conclusion in October when an NCAA infractions committee panel couldn't conclude there were violations because the school had argued the courses were legitimate and available to non-athletes, as well.
Information from ESPN's David Hale and The Associated Press was included in this report.