13 UNC football players suspended, will not play in season opener against Cal

Football: California Golden Bears at North Carolina Tar Heels
Al Sermeno, klcfotos.com/File

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When student-athletes and money are involved in the same sentence, the news typically isn’t good.

That was the case Monday for 13 University of North Carolina football players, who were each suspended for at least one game for selling university-issued Nike Jordan shoes, a violation that was self-reported by UNC in January.

While the players’ suspensions vary in length and are staggered because multiple suspended players play the same position, all 13 will not dress for the Tar Heels’ season opener against Cal on Sept. 1. It remains to be seen whether or not the players in question will be allowed to travel across the country to Berkeley with the rest of the team.

According to 247Sports, 15 players sold their shoes — which were provided through the football program — for cash in amounts ranging from $200 or less to $2,500. The NCAA has deemed the sale of the shoes a Level III/secondary violation.

Among those suspended is quarterback Chazz Surratt, one of the leading candidates for the starting job up until Monday’s news. The sophomore did not start in last year’s 35-30 loss to the Bears in Chapel Hill, but he entered and accounted for two touchdowns in relief of starter Brandon Harris.

Other notable names who will be forced to sit out come on the other side of the ball, including redshirt senior defensive end Malik Carney, who led the team in tackles for loss with 12.0 and sacks with 5.5 in 2017.

“I am certainly upset by our players’ actions and how their choices reflect on them, our program and the University,” said head coach Larry Fedora in a statement. “These young men knew the rules and are being held responsible for the poor choices they have made. Accountability is an important core principle in this program. We will learn from this and aim to do better in the future.”

With Surratt sidelined in the early going, redshirt junior Nathan Elliott will more than likely be the one under center when UNC takes the field against Cal. Elliott started three games at the tail end of last season, including a 65-10 drubbing of Western Carolina.

Josh Yuen covers football. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joshcal2020