Current Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2013 17:23:12 -0500
Correction (October 4, 9:42 p.m.): Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the entity responsible for academic investigation of football players. The Honor system and the Undergraduate Student Attorney General staff will investigate. The story has been updated to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
UNC officials are standing behind head football coach Butch Davis amid increasing reports of the improprieties of former associate coach John Blake.
In an address to reporters prior to Thursday’s practice, Davis said he feels that he has the full backing of the University and has no plans to step down as coach in light of the controversy.
“I think I have total support,” he said.
Yahoo Sports revealed hotel receipts Wednesday that link Blake and suspended UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin with NFL agent Gary Wichard.
The report shows that Austin stayed at a California hotel and his room was paid for by Pro Tect Management, where Blake was once vice president of football operations, according to Yahoo Sports. In the story, Wichard denied any financial relationship with Blake.
The NCAA is investigating the UNC football team for players’ improper agent benefits and academic misconduct.
UNC’s student-run Honor Court and the Undergraduate Student Attorney General staff are investigating the academic portion.
In an interview, athletic director Dick Baddour said calls for Davis’ resignation are without merit.
“I continue to give Butch Davis my support,” he said. “Clearly we’ve identified some areas we need to work together to be stronger and I believe that Butch should be a part of that effort to lead this football program in the way that we know he can.”
According to Davis’ contract, the University would have cause to fire Davis if a violation by an assistant coach occurred and Davis had reason to know or should have known.
Bob Winston, chairman of the UNC Board of Trustees, said the latest revelation has not shaken the board’s confidence in Davis.
“They have confidence in Coach Davis to lead the University of North Carolina football team,” Winston said.
“The agent issue is less clear than the academic side,” he added.
Two NCAA representatives were on campus Wednesday and Thursday to evaluate the athletic department’s academic support system, said Steve Kirschner, an athletics department spokesman.
Winston said concerns about Davis’ oversight of the team are mere speculation, and that part of the blame lies with students who used poor judgment.
“It’s bad decisions by students and bad decisions by adults,” he said of the agents who sought access to UNC players.
Chancellor Holden Thorp and Baddour said the situation with the football program has not reached a lack of institutional control.
“Those things have to do more with not having a strong compliance program in place or ignoring obvious kinds of issues, and that has not happened,” Baddour said.
Thorp and Baddour said the University distanced itself from Blake as soon as it realized the extent of the charges against him, though they knew about them before Blake coached against Louisiana State University.
Baddour said the University did not have enough information to dismiss Blake with cause at the time. Thorp said firing Blake without cause would cost the University four times more than it did.
Blake was hired in 2006 and his contract was renewed on June 29, just more than a week after the NCAA informed the University that representatives would be visiting campus.
Blake, whose University salary was $240,000 per year, was paid a severance of $74,500 upon his resignation.
“We’re going to make some corrections to the football program to keep this from happening again,” Thorp said, referring to Davis’ promises of closer oversight of player trips and associations.
Thorp also said he thinks the necessary corrections will be made to the football program and that there are no plans to replace Davis as coach.
Senior writer Sara Gregory contributed reporting.
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