Thirteen Tar Heels ruled out for opener
Six North Carolina starters -- defensive tackle Marvin Austin, cornerback Charles Brown, cornerback Kendric Burney, wide receiver Greg Little, defensive end Michael McAdoo and defensive end Robert Quinn -- have been declared ineligible for the Tar Heels' season-opening game against No. 21 LSU for "violating school and/or NCAA rules," the university announced Friday.
Six other players will also be withheld from the game while the NCAA's two-pronged investigation continues. Those six are: tailback Shaun Draughn, defensive end Linwan Euwell, safety Brian Gupton, tailback Ryan Houston, safety Da'Norris Searcy and safety Jonathan Smith.
Safety Deunta Williams was declared ineligible late Friday while starting linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter were cleared to play.
The total number of games that the players other than Sturdivant and Carter are expected to miss has not yet been determined, as the NCAA investigates possible improper contact with agents, along with allegations of academic misconduct.
"We are still working with the NCAA staff to resolve these eligibility issues," athletic director Dick Baddour said in a statement. "The NCAA is focusing on each of their situations on a case-by-case basis. Together we are working to determine their status in as thorough and fair a process as is possible."
Investigators from the North Carolina Secretary of State's office have also subpoenaed Austin, The Associated Press reported Friday.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is reviewing whether sports agent laws have been broken. That probe follows an NCAA investigation that focused initially on whether Austin and Little got improper benefits from agents but has since expanded to include possible academic violations.
Marshall's office has sent out notices to agents asking them not to destroy evidence or documents.
George Jeter, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, declined to comment on the subpoena.
"All I can say is it's an active, ongoing inquiry at this time," he said.
North Carolina, ranked 18th, is also working with the NCAA today to determine the eligibility status of three other unnamed players who will not travel to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A kickoff. The Tar Heels left Friday morning.
"We're obviously very disappointed to learn that the actions of a number of our student-athletes have resulted in their being unable to compete in Saturday's game," Baddour said in a statement. "It is important to note again that people should not make assumptions as to the nature of each student-athlete's involvement with these issues."
It's unclear how many games Quinn, McAdoo, Burney, Brown, Little and Austin will miss, though the announcement is a massive blow for a program that entered coach Butch Davis' fourth season in position to contend for an Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Austin, Little and Burney were among six players who opted in January to return for their senior seasons instead of entering the NFL draft, while Quinn, a junior, is widely considered to be a high first-round pick.
The NCAA first visited the campus in July focused on whether Austin and Little received improper benefits from agents. That probe has since expanded into potential academic misconduct involving a tutor.
"As I've said, there is no single game more important than the character and integrity of this university," Davis said in the release. "We are disappointed the players' choices have denied them the opportunity to compete alongside their teammates and represent the University of North Carolina."
Heather Dinich covers the ACC for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.