Call of Tomari Fox losses, will miss 2022 UNC football season

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NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) and tight end Dylan Parham (28) block North Carolina defensive lineman Tomari Fox (56) in NC State’s 34-30 win over UNC at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday, November 26, 2021.

ehyman@newsobserver.com

North Carolina defensive end Tomari Fox has lost his NCAA appeal and will not be eligible for the 2022 season, the school announced Tuesday. Fox drank an over-the-counter pre-workout drink that contained a banned substance he claims he doesn’t know about.

Fox has started 14 games combined over the past two seasons and appeared in all 12 regular season games last year for the Tar Heels. He led the team with six rushing quarterbacks and recorded 25 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

“Unfortunately, I will be unable to participate in the 2022 football season for reasons beyond my control,” Fox said in a statement. “I am disappointed with the decision, but I remain hopeful for the future. I will continue to give Tar Heel Nation my all on and off the court.

The only game Fox didn’t play last season was the Heels’ Duke’s Mayo Bowl loss to South Carolina. Fox was removed from the game as a precaution after discovering he had consumed the undisclosed substance.

UNC coach Mack Brown felt the punishment was heavy, saying the rule was outdated.

“I’m really concerned about the penalty; I don’t think the penalty is fair,” Brown said. “Here’s a young man who got advice from someone and drank something out of a bottle – which I would have drank – and then he loses his whole year. So I don’t think the sentence fits the crime at all .

Fox will have two more years of eligibility. He will be allowed to train and train with the team.

“We just have to keep him involved,” Brown said. “He can’t travel. He can’t be sidelined, all he can do is practice. So they’re taking away his life as a football player, so we really have to make sure that we help support him and keep him going throughout the year.

Carolina has some defensive depth, so they should be able to absorb Fox’s absence without it hurting the team. Desmond Evans and Beau Atkinson took the most reps in the spring game. Kaimon Rucker, who started 10 games last season, sat out the spring game due to injury but is expected to be full when camp resumes in August.

CL Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience, including stints as a beat writer at Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stint at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he won an APSE award, he stopped by ESPN.com, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website, clbrownhoops.com.

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