North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules and will not play on Saturday against LSU, the school announced on Wednesday.
“This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review,” coach Butch Davis said in a prepared statement. “Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team.”
This is obviously a huge loss because Austin is one of the top defenders in the country and is widely regarded as one of the top NFL draft picks. He started 12 games last year and had 42 tackles, six tackles for losses, four sacks, three pass breakups, six quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
But everyone knows how good he is. What we don't know is how UNC will fare without him -- or if he's the only one who will be missing. No depth chart has been released other than the one that's in the media guide, but this summer, starting defensive end Quinton Coples moved to tackle, which means Michael McAdoo or Donte Paige-Moss could start at end. Truth is, trying to make any sense of the depth chart right now is fruitless.
UNC needs its best players on the field to beat LSU. Period. And Austin is one of them.
The surprise of this announcement was not Austin's suspension -- his name has been reported repeatedly as a prime target of the NCAA's investigation into improper contact with agents. The surprise was that this suspension has nothing to with with the NCAA's investigation (academic or agent-related.)