Butch Davis apologizes for trusting Blake

Program ‘tainted’ by former coach

At a news conference Monday, North Carolina football head coach Butch Davis said he would have fired associate head coach John Blake had he known Blake had improper relations with an agent.

“I can promise you and tell you that if we would have ever known that any of these allegations were absolutely true, Coach Blake would have been dismissed — I would have fired him.”

The statement comes just a day after a Yahoo Sports story reported that Blake had recommended agent and friend Gary Wichard to Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders.

Such an act is considered unethical conduct by NCAA by law 10.1, which states that a coach cannot facilitate or arrange a “meeting between a student-athlete and an agent.”

Blake resigned from his position with the football team last month.

“I am very sorry that all of this stuff has tainted the football program and as the head football coach, I take a tremendous amount of responsibility for all of the football-related issues,” Davis said.

“I’m the head guy. I’m sorry that it has affected the football program, but I’m going to tell you what I’m more sorry about — I’m sorry that I trusted John Blake.”

The associate head coach first came into contact with Dareus when Blake was recruiting the Huffman High (Ala.) star for UNC, according to Yahoo Sports. The story also reported that the two kept in contact after Dareus chose Alabama.

Davis said he has warned his coaching staff about linking players to agents and added that it was unusual for a coach to stay in contact with a player once that player had chosen to attend school elsewhere.

“I’ve never known anybody that you stay in contact. I mean, you recruit hundreds of kids each year,” Davis said.

“We literally have phone conversations, official visits, write letters to and stuff, and as soon as a kid decides to go to another school, he goes to another school.”

The news about Dareus comes just a week after another Yahoo Sports story reported that Wichard had wired money to Blake at least six times in the past three years, and that Wichard’s Pro Tect Management was billed for a California hotel room UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin stayed in this July.

Athletic director Dick Baddour and Chancellor Holden Thorp have expressed support for Davis in spite of a clause in Davis’ contract that allows the University to fire Davis if a violation by an assistant coach occurred and Davis had reason to know or should have known.

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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