DURHAM, N.C. -- A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former North Carolina football player Michael McAdoo against the school and NCAA after he was declared permanently ineligible for academic misconduct.
McAdoo sought damages from UNC and the NCAA, alleging "gross negligence" in the ineligibility ruling that his attorneys argued was based on inaccurate information. But Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson sided with attorneys representing the school and NCAA during a 2½-hour hearing Monday.
McAdoo's attorney, Noah H. Huffstetler III, said the family will consider whether to appeal the dismissal to the state Court of Appeals. He said the lawsuit was partly designed to focus attention on NCAA procedures when enforcing its bylaws.
"We still believe our case has merit and should not have been dismissed," Huffstetler said. "But we recognize we are dealing with some fairly new legal principles for which there isn't a lot of appellate law.
"Frankly, that's one of the reasons Mr. McAdoo pursued the case to begin with. He feels strongly, and his family does, that he was not treated appropriately."
Paul Sun, a Raleigh-based attorney representing the NCAA, declined comment after the hearing. Spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the NCAA is "pleased the court has agreed that Mr. McAdoo's lawsuit should be dismissed."
McAdoo, now on injured reserve with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, was one of seven players forced to sit all last year amid the NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the program. The probe led to 14 players missing at least one game, the firing of head coach Butch Davis a week before training camp and the early departure of Dick Baddour as athletic director.
McAdoo's attorneys filed the lawsuit in July seeking unspecified damages, claiming he was "improperly and unjustly" declared permanently ineligible in November 2010.
According to the complaint, the NCAA ruled McAdoo ineligible for receiving improper assistance from tutor Jennifer Wiley "on multiple assignments across several academic terms." But McAdoo's lawyers argue that the school's Honor Court found him guilty of only one infraction: Representing another's work as his own after Wiley had formatted in-text citations and the "works cited" page for websites used to prepare his research paper.
The school's Honor Court decided to suspend him from school for the spring semester, but allow him to re-enroll in the summer and then return to the football team this fall. It cleared him in a second case and the student attorney general decided there was insufficient evidence to pursue a third against him, though the NCAA later ruled him permanently ineligible.
Accusations of plagiarism in the paper later surfaced after his attorneys included a copy in a court exhibit that was made public.
McAdoo's attorneys had also sought to compel UNC to reinstate him to the team in time for the fall semester and prevent the NCAA from interfering. Hudson denied that request during a July hearing.
Attorneys for the NCAA and UNC argued that McAdoo's decision to enter the NFL supplemental draft and ultimately sign with the Ravens negated his claims that losing his college eligibility would affect his professional prospects. Sun argued the court wouldn't be able to award "speculative" damages based on McAdoo failing to improve his draft position by missing his senior season.
Sun also argued, as he did in July, that the court shouldn't intervene in the internal affairs of an organization with voluntary membership and that McAdoo's paper was a clear case of cheating. He said the NCAA "correctly and fairly" applied its rules in the McAdoo case.