North Carolina football coach Butch Davis said Thursday he and his staff are looking more closely into associations his players have with people outside the program.
The NCAA suspended senior defensive backs Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams for six and four games, respectively, for receiving improper benefits from a former UNC student-athlete and someone whom the NCAA defines as an agent.
“We’ve already put some things in place that I think are going to make us better,” Davis said before practice Thursday. “There’s things that we’re doing with the players to find out where they’re going, and some of their associations, and how they’re getting to certain places.’
Wednesday night, former UNC football player Chris Hawkins identified former UNC defensive back Mahlon Carey as the person who hosted Burney in Atlanta. It was one of three trips under review that the NCAA says Burney took.
Hawkins said he and Carey are a part of Rude Boyz, an unofficial group of former and current UNC defensive backs.
“That’s been there for a long time,” Hawkins said. “Way before even (current NFL player Dre’) Bly was there, so we try to stick together all the time.”
Davis described Burney and Williams as disappointed after the NCAA ruling, but told the players to remain optimistic, especially with the players who assumed their positions in the secondary.
“I told them the best thing you could do to help your team is support your teammates, help pass along some things with the younger players who are playing your position, help them study film, help them in practice and pass along some of the experience they’ve gained over the last three years,” Davis said.
Athletic director Dick Baddour said Wednesday that the penalties levied on Williams and Burney were too harsh and that the University would appeal the ruling.
Davis said he was disappointed with the ruling, but said he will not play a role in the appeal process.
“That’s with our compliance department,” Davis said. “They will take other cases that they’ve investigated and draw some kind of parallels to it and, based on other institutions and other cases, they’ll use that as a basis for some of the appeals.”
Davis refused to say whether Burney and Williams would be in the starting lineup once their suspensions are over, but did say they will play a significant role on the football team.
Last week against Georgia Tech, Johnny White started in front of Shaun Draughn, who started at running back last year but sat out the Louisiana State game while his eligibility was being determined. There are still nine Tar Heels whose eligibility has not been decided and who will sit out a third straight game.
“Some of the guys have already approached myself and (strength and conditioning coordinator) Jeff Connors wanting to start doing some additional conditioning,” Davis said. “They’re not getting the opportunity to play on Saturdays and gain that kind of extra conditioning, so we’ll probably implement that next week.”
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