North Carolina Fires Football Coach Davis Amid NCAA Probe; Baddour Leaving
University of North Carolina administrators said firing football coach Butch Davis was the “only way” to deal with the impact of a rules investigation, and announced that Dick Baddour is leaving as athletic director.
Davis, 59, was dismissed yesterday to “restore confidence” in the university and its football program amid the National Collegiate Athletic Association probe, Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a news release. A search will begin for a replacement.
“I can no longer overlook the fact that what started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this university’s integrity,” Thorp said today at a news conference. “I cannot stand for that.”
Baddour said at the news conference that he had asked Thorp to begin the search for a new athletic director “as soon as possible.” Baddour has been with the university for 45 years and was scheduled to step down in June 2012.
“As someone who has hired coaches for the past 14 years, I know that it is even more imperative that my successor be able to name the next head coach,” he said.
The NCAA is investigating whether North Carolina players violated academic rules and engaged in improper deals with agents.
School officials said the decision to fire Davis wasn’t related to any change in the NCAA investigation. The move was the result of cumulative damage to the university’s reputation during the last year, the release said.
North Carolina’s football program was accused by the NCAA of nine rules infractions on June 21. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based school has 90 days to answer the allegations, which follow a 12-month probe by the NCAA. School officials were told to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis on Oct. 28.
Among the accusations is one of unethical conduct by former assistant coach John Blake, who resigned in September after the Tar Heels’ season opener. Blake is accused of lying about his relationship with former NFL agent Gary Wichard, who died in March.
“I feel terrible that these allegations occurred under my watch,” Davis said in a June statement. “The responsibility for correcting any problems that put us in this position is mine, and I take that responsibility very seriously.”
North Carolina finished last season with an 8-5 record. Davis met as recently as July 25 with reporters at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s annual football kickoff.
Davis said today in a statement posted on the Raleigh News and Observer’s website that he was “surprised and saddened” to learn of his firing, adding that he and his family “have known all along that (he) personally did nothing wrong.”
Davis’ contract entitles him to a maximum total $2.7 million severance pay because he isn’t being dismissed for cause, Thorp said at the news conference. Thorp maintained he does not believe Davis was aware of the indiscretions that attracted attention of the NCAA.
“Even though this is a terrible time, the athletics program will need to pay whatever it is that we need to pay to make this separation happen,” said Thorp.
Thorp and Baddour will meet today to interview on-staff candidates for the intern coach’s position, and they expect to make an announcement in the next few days, the chancellor said.
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