UNC’s Loeb Wins National Title

UNC women’s tennis star Jamie Loeb is a national champion.

The number seven seed Sophomore Loeb defeated second-seeded Carol Zhao of Stanford to win the 2015 NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles National Championship on Monday afternoon.

Loeb’s three-set victory is the first singles national championship in Carolina women’s tennis history.

Loeb was named the 2014 ITA National Player of the Year and has also been named ACC Player of the Year twice. Now you can add national champion to her résumé.


W Lax Falls in National Title Game

The North Carolina Tar Heel Women’s Lacrosse team came up one goal shy of a national championship on Sunday night.

The second-ranked Tar Heels fell to the number-one ranked Maryland Terrapins 9-8 in Pennsylvania for the national title.

Carolina knocked off rival Duke on Friday night to earn a spot in the championship game.

The Tar Heels took a lead into halftime of the championship at 6-3 after scoring the final four goals of the first half but couldn’t hold on for the title.

This marks the second consecutive season that Maryland has taken home the national championship.


Chansky: UNC ‘Happy’ with Notice of Allegations

UNC received its long-awaited Notice of Allegations from the NCAA Friday, and all indications are that Carolina is “happy” with what that NOA says.

Sources close to the situation say that the football and men’s basketball programs escaped allegations that would lead to the vacating of victories and (in basketball’s case) a national championship looking back and has not been charged with any violations that would result in a post-season ban and loss of scholarships moving forward.

Apparently, the strongest allegations point toward the university for “lack of institutional control,” which is the NCAA’s most egregious charge. Usually, that comes along with alleged violations against certain athletic teams, coaches and/or athletes. But, in this case, the NCAA adhered to its historical precedent of not judging how a university offers and teaches its academic curricula.

Unknown at this time is whether any UNC Olympic sports program has been charged with any violations.

In football and men’s basketball, at least, no specific cheating was uncovered by any athletes, which could have led to violations. The AFAM scandal revolved around what UNC calls “irregular” classes taught and graded by retired Administrative Secretary Deborah Crowder with the approval of deposed department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and were taken by 53 percent non-athletes over 18 years.

The official NCAA website says, “It is not our job to ensure educational quality . . . the NCAA did not assume a duty to ensure the quality of the education of student-athletes . . . the NCAA does not have ‘direct, day-to-day, operational control'” over member institutions like UNC.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said a version of that publicly this spring, perhaps setting the stage for the Notice of Allegations UNC has received.

Carolina will release a version of the Notice of Allegations once it redacts names and information that could violate federal privacy laws.


UNC Receives Notice Of Allegations From NCAA

Details remain scanty at this time, but UNC officials have confirmed the University has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

NCAA investigators were on campus following the release of the Wainstein Report last October.

UNC officials have not released details of the letter, including what the exact allegations are. Art Chansky of Chapelboro.com says there are no indications that the football and men’s basketball programs have been charged with specific violations, and that the allegations revolve around a “lack of institutional control,” which could lead to a hefty fine for the university and possibly a probationary period for the entire athletics department.

UNC has 90 days to respond to the notice of allegations, after which the NCAA Committee on Infractions to determine what penalties UNC will receive.

A full statement from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham is below:

“We take these allegations very seriously, and we will carefully evaluate them to respond within the NCAA’s 90-day deadline. The University will publicly release the NCAA’s notice as soon as possible. The notice is lengthy and must be prepared for public dissemination to ensure we protect privacy rights as required by federal and state law. When that review for redactions is complete, the University will post the notice on the Carolina Commitment website and notify the news media. When we respond to the NCAA’s allegations, we will follow this same release process.

“Consistent with NCAA protocols, the University cannot comment on details of the investigation until it is completed.”


Pictures More Effective than Text to Stop Smoking

Graphic warnings on tobacco products are more effective than text cautions, new UNC analysis has found.

By this point you are more than likely familiar with the television ads from smokers warning against the dangers of using tobacco.

Those commercials can be uncomfortable, but that’s the point. And Seth Noar, UNC Journalism Professor and member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, says analysis done at UNC of global studies found the graphic warnings on cigarette packs are more of a deterrent to smoking than text warnings.

“We looked at 25 different outcomes,” Noar says, “and what was most impressive was that on almost every outcome these pictorial warnings outperformed text warnings.”

The 25 outcomes surveyed included, do the picture warnings generate more attention, fear, and consciousness among smokers.

Noar says while Americans see these graphic television commercials, other countries take different approaches. He notes Australia is one of the most progressive countries utilizing tactics to encourage residents to quit smoking – or not start smoking to begin with.

“They’re the first country in the world that has told tobacco companies ‘you cannot put any branding on the cigarette pack,’” Noar says. “[They] can only put [for example] ‘Marlboro’ in plain text. They can’t have the red color. They can’t have the fancy font and some of the branding.

“And they also have a very large graphic picture on the pack.”

Noar says UNC’s analysis found there is good evidence these types of campaigns are effective in keeping residents from smoking.

“[With] the CDC’s “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign, there was an evaluation that came out recently that suggested that that campaign may have impacted something like 100,000 people,” he says, “essentially getting 100,000 people to quit smoking for good.”

Noar adds legislation was introduced years ago in the US to bring these graphics onto cigarette packs domestically, but it has been stalled in court filings from large tobacco companies.

“It seems to be across the board, no matter what country is trying to implement tobacco-control policies, the industry often uses litigation as a way to try to stop the policies [or] try to slow them down,” he says. “I think especially when countries are trying to do something that’s new, that’s innovative.”

While litigation can cause the graphics implementation to be slowed in a country with the resources of the United States, some smaller countries are not able to compete with the litigation dollars being put forward by tobacco companies.

Noar adds, in light of all of the evidence that graphic warnings are more effective than the text cautions, the number one way to slow the number of citizens smoking has consistently been raising the price of a pack of cigarettes.


UNC Launches Two Programs to Aid Military Members

UNC announced two initiatives to help veterans navigate the sometimes complicated path into higher education.

Jim Gregory is the Director of Media Relations at UNC, but he is also a veteran of the US military and says announcements like the one made on Wednesday make him very proud.

“When you’re in the military, you’re thinking of ‘What’s the mission? What do I need to be doing to make sure that I’m doing my job?’ but stepping outside of that can be scary,” Gregory says. “This provides two concrete initiatives to help active-duty navigate this higher education process.”

The two initiatives are the hiring of a Student Veteran Assistance Coordinator at Carolina and the launch of a new program – UNC Core.

“That program is really a [UNC] system-wide initiative, but it’s led by [UNC] Chapel Hill. And it’s designed to accelerate higher-education opportunities for active-duty military in North Carolina,” Gregory says. “It involves self-paced and summer-based courses that take advantage of what’s already available out there.

“But it packages it in a way that helps them satisfy their general education requirements.”

Gregory says this is viewed as the first step for veterans who are not able to come to class on campus to complete a four-year degree online.

He adds the newly created position will provide a singular point of contact for veterans who are taking courses.

“That is a position that will report to the Dean of Students. It’ll be filled this summer. They’re looking at candidates now,” Gregory says. “That person will work with others within the dean’s office, around the university, state, [and] local organizations to help veterans navigate the higher education process.

“It’s not always easy to know what’s out there [and] what’s available. And I can speak as a veteran myself, it’s a complex environment.”

The goal of the initiatives is to streamline the communication and accessibility for veterans to migrate into higher education.

The UNC Core program is open to all military members and will be housed in the Friday Center for Continuing Education. More information on that program is available here.

These initiatives are in addition to programs already in place for veterans at UNC including online MBA programs, physician assistant degrees, and the Warrior Scholarship Project.


Former UNC Player Charged with Violating Sports Agent Law

A former UNC football player made his first court appearance on felony charges of athlete-agent inducement, on Tuesday.

Former UNC Defensive Back Christopher Jamel Hawkins appeared before District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett through videoconference from the Orange County Jail.

Hawkins was arrested on Monday and charged with violating the state’s sports agent law. Overall, he is facing four charges – two misdemeanors and two class i felonies, which are the least serious felony offenses in North Carolina.

The judge told Hawkins that a conviction could mean three – four months up to 10 – 12 months in the prison.

Hawkins was arrested at the residence of Willie Parker. Although there was no confirmation that is the same Willie Parker who played football at UNC, the two were roommates during their time at Carolina and Hawkins had long self-proclaimed himself Parker’s manager during Parker’s years in the National Football League.

Hawkins faces two counts of trying to induce former Tar Heels Defensive End Robert Quinn to sign a contract with him in 2010, by giving Quinn more than $13,000. Hawkins is also accused of aiding Quinn, who is now with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, in selling game-used equipment, according to court documents.

Hawkins also is facing charges of intentionally contacting former UNC Defensive Back Jabari Price without being a registered agent and of intentionally failing to register as an athlete agent.

Jeff Niemann, with the District Attorney’s Office, says Hawkins’ criminal record includes felony drug charges in Georgia. Hawkins was convicted in 2012 of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Hawkins was originally held after his arrest on a $500,000 bond. Judge Scarlett reduced that to $300,000 after some haggling between attorneys. Niemann argued for a stronger bond due to accounts of Hawkins recently making a trip to Florida posing him as a flight risk. The public defender for Hawkins argued he did not have the means to constitute such high bond.

Scarlett put forward stipulations should Hawkins’ bond be posted: he must have a reliable address, phone number, Hawkins is not to leave the state of North Carolina, and he is to immediately contact his probation officer in Georgia.

Hawkins has another court date scheduled for next Monday, May 18.


UNC’s Ben Griffin Named All-ACC

A UNC golfer has been named to the All-ACC team.

Ben Griffin is a freshman on the Carolina golf team, from right here in Chapel Hill, and now he can add all-conference to his list of accolades. The conference announced the teams on Monday.

Griffin won two tournaments in his rookie season, both with a winning score of 10 under par. He finished the season with eight top-10 finishes in 11 tournaments this year, and for good measure he was in the top-25 in the other three.

Griffin led the Tar Heels with an average round of just under 71.

Griffin and the 19th-ranked Tar Heels will host the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional this week, May 14-16, at UNC Finley Golf Course. First round play will begin Thursday morning with the Tar Heels teeing off the #1 tee at 8 a.m.


UNC and GSK Announce Company to Fight HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS has affected thousands of lives over the past three decades as scientists are still working toward a cure.

Hundreds of researchers, doctors, university leaders, business leaders, and government officials packed into Marsico Hall for an announcement on a new partnership with UNC directly from Chancellor Carol Folt.

“It’s a first-of-its-kind joint venture between UNC-Chapel Hill and GlaxoSmithKline creating an HIV Cure Center and a new company called Qura Therapeutics,” Folt says. “It will be jointly owned and will focus on discovering a cure [for] HIV/AIDS.”

Folt pointed out Carolina has been a leader for research toward finding a cure since its first patient was admitted in 1981.

“[By] conducting decades of research and clinical trials and compassionate patient care,” she says, “we have become a world leader in studying and testing approaches that will allow us to prevent transmission and eradicate the infection.”

Sir Andrew Witty is the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline – and his son graduated from Carolina over the weekend. He says this announcement does not mean a cure is right around the corner. But it’s a start.

“This is not an easy challenge by any stretch,” he says. “And I don’t think anybody who’s involved in putting this partnership together and creating this new company today really has any other view than this is a difficult mission.”

The new company, Qura Therapeutics, and the HIV Cure Center will be located on the campus of UNC, and ownership of the company will be split 50/50 by Carolina and GSK, according to Folt.

“This is a highly unusual structure,” Folt says. “But it will allow our team to actively embrace the commercialization and integrate the science, drug development, and manufacturing that will be necessary to address this cure from all angles.”

GlaxoSmithKline will invest four million dollars per year over the next five years to fund the initial HIV Cure center research plan and a small research team from GSK will be moving to Chapel Hill to work with UNC researchers on the project.

Witty was quick to say that a cure will not be found overnight and that this will be a long process. One that will likely include the extension of the current contract several times over and the inclusion of more partners to ultimately find a cure for a disease that has touched so many lives.

Doctor David Margolis is the leader of the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication and he summed the announcement up very nicely, saying, “It’s time to go to work.”


Tar Heels in the Pros: Harrison Barnes

The University of North Carolina has a long-standing tradition of sending its basketball players to the NBA. A breeding ground for sensational talents such as Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Rasheed Wallace, and Vince Carter, UNC has produced a star more recently in Harrison Barnes.

***Listen to the story***

A two-year member of Roy Williams’ program, Harrison Barnes entered the NBA draft in 2012 after his sophomore season at UNC. Since then, the standout shooting guard has been a starter for the Golden State Warriors in two of his three years in the league. In his second season with the Warriors, Barnes only started 24 of their 78 games, a change that he did not acclimate to very well.

Barnes at Cameron Indoor (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Barnes at Cameron Indoor (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

“After my rookie season I felt like we had a good year, I felt like we could have kept the same guys and continued doing what we were doing. We just made some changes and it was just a different experience for me because I had come to the league and I was used to playing a certain way my rookie year, and to come and play a different role and play with a different unit and all that was why I struggled statistically,” Barnes recently told NBA.com.

Barnes’ statistical averages did take a hit in the 2013-2014 season coming off the bench; his field goal and three-point percentages dropped in his sophomore slump.

This season, his third, has by far been Barnes’ best. He started all 82 of the Warriors’ regular season games; he shot 48% from the field as well as 41% from three-point range, and took care of the ball, averaging less than one turnover per game in the regular season.

The rising star has not forgotten his collegiate experience, saying how his wish growing up was to play at North Carolina.

“That was a dream to play at Carolina. I remember I used to tell kids when I was 14 or 15 years old, I was like ‘I’m gonna play on the big stage, I’m going to go play at Carolina’ and these kids used to laugh me out of the gym. ‘Come on man, stop it. North Carolina? That’s the big stage.’ And that was always something I dreamed for and worked for, North Carolina was always the spot for me,” Barnes says.

Barnes has quickly found himself yet another family outside of his home state of Iowa in the Bay Area of northern California. The Golden State fans there have embraced him and have even given him a nickname: “The Senator.”

“That came from Jim Barnett [Warriors TV color analyst],” Barnes says. “I think we were just doing like a little Q&A interview my rookie year and he was like ‘You know you’re always going into politics and your answers are always so well-parsed I’m gonna start calling you “The Senator”,’ and I thought he was joking but he kept calling me that and calling me. Now every time he sees me he says ‘How’re you doing, Senator?’.”

Barnes has been known for his calm and often stately demeanor, even during his time at UNC, but his competitive side is no secret, either. As an important starter for the best team in the NBA, Barnes’ reputation grows with each passing game. Along with stars like Klay Thompson and MVP Stephen Curry, the Warriors have their eyes set on the highest of goals: winning an NBA championship.

Barnes at the 2014 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest (LA Times)

Barnes at the 2014 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest (LA Times)

“You know obviously it’s a very big accomplishment to win the division, that’s something we didn’t do obviously my first two years here. So, it’s a big goal, big milestone but it’s still a long journey to where we want to go,” Barnes says.

Starting their second round series this week against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors are hoping to move on to the Western Conference Finals and face either the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers.

Next week on “Tar Heels in the Pros,” we’ll feature an ageless wonder – Vince Carter of the Memphis Grizzlies.