North Carolina announced Monday that 13 football players will be suspended to open the 2018 season after the school found secondary NCAA violations involving the sale of team-issued shoes.
Offensive linemen Brian Anderson, Quiron Johnson and Jordan Tucker; defensive ends Malik Carney, Tomon Fox and Tyrone Hopper; linebacker Malik Robinson; quarterback Chazz Surratt; and wide receiver Beau Corrales will each sit out four games.
The suspensions will be staggered.
Carney will miss games against East Carolina, UCF, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. Fox will sit against Miami, Syracuse, Virginia and Georgia Tech. Everybody else will miss season opener at Cal on Sept. 1. Since many of the players play the same position, the staggered suspensions have been approved by the NCAA.
"I am certainly upset by our players' actions and how their choices reflect on them, our program and the university," coach Larry Fedora said in a statement released by the school. "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."
Of the 13 suspensions, the most notable is Surratt. The rising sophomore completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 1,342 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions last year, adding 210 rushing yards and five scores on the ground. With Surratt out for the first four games of the season, that leaves junior Nathan Elliott as the likely candidate to be the Tar Heels' starter when the season starts. He threw for 926 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions last year, and finished off the season as the No. 1 quarterback after Surratt and former Tar Heel Brandon Harris got banged up.
"We are disappointed," athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. "Chancellor [Carol] Folt, Coach Fedora and I have high expectations of all of our students, coaches and staff, and we expect everyone to embrace and abide by all team and NCAA rules. We always will strive to get better."
In addition to Surratt, Carney and Fox were likely starters along the Tar Heel defensive line.
The school self-reported the violations in February, and the NCAA processed the investigation in March. The players will be able to participate fully in practice during their suspensions.