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The Daily Tar Heel

Should he stay or should he go?: The evidence points to letting Davis go, but too much has been invested to make a snap decision

Whether or not Butch Davis had any knowledge of his players’ transgressions, it seems clear that there are problems with his leadership.

If Davis was directly involved in facilitating players’ academic or agent-related violations, the issue is one of unsound ethics, and the solution is relatively simple: Davis should be fired.

If Davis was so uninvolved in his players’ lives a scandal of this magnitude could fly under his radar, there are equally vexing issues with UNC’s football program and Davis’ ability to lead such a vast — and growing — program.

In order to steer a football team through the kind of expansion in which UNC has invested, the head coach needs to be sufficiently hands-on so the sorts of problems our team is having could have been found out and addressed much earlier. The coaching staff — not the NCAA’s ethics committee — should be monitoring our athletes’ conduct.

Given these alternatives and the shades of grey between, it is hard to envision a scenario in which Davis is entirely blameless. If Davis does prove to be responsible once the University can “get to the bottom of this matter” — as President Bowles assured the Board of Governors it would — Davis should be fired.

With that said, we would be thrilled to hear an explanation that absolves Davis of culpability. It would be a shame to have to change coaches on our team at such a critical juncture in the program’s expansion.

More important, however, is maintaining the integrity of our school.

Given the heightened media attention UNC and its policies are currently receiving, those in power must be especially careful of the message they are sending.

On the one hand, the stakes are high; an enormous amount of money, including a $70 million renovation of Kenan stadium, has been invested in the program. No one wants to see that investment go to waste. Firing Davis without evidence linking him to the improprieties would be exactly such a waste.

But erring on the side of caution is acceptable when it comes to preserving our academic reputation.

We must avoid making any decision that would suggest the strength of the athletic programs at UNC is of a higher priority than academic integrity.

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