RALEIGH — The powers-that-be at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say they are carefully investigating the unfolding scandal enveloping the school’s football program.
Why? What else does anyone need to know?
Just the basic facts paint a sordid picture, a worst-case scenario of college athletics run amok.
A tutor allegedly writes papers for players. The same tutor happens to be in the personal employ of the head football coach months after she is let go by the university for being “too close” to players. An assistant football coach has a close relationship with a sports agent. The agent signs up clients who played for the coach. UNC players introduce players from other schools to runners for sports agents or marketing companies. They fly to out-of-town parties attended by agents. A sports agent runner and alleged cocaine trafficker hangs out at the school’s football facilities.
Again, what else is there to know?
The basic facts leave little doubt that what’s occurred is the worst college sports scandal to hit a UNC system school campus since a basketball point-shaving scandal of the early 1960s.
The response from some the school’s supporters seems to be that this kind of thing happens everywhere.
Really? I’m not aware of any athletic department tutors at other schools accused of wrongdoing who coincidentally were employed by the head football coach.
As for the rest, some of it may go on at a few other schools — the football factories of the Southeastern Conference. Are the standards of the University of Alabama the standards by which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now measures itself?
If so, Butch Davis should be fired for losing, not rule-breaking.
The goings-on within the UNC-Chapel Hill football program have tainted the entire university and 16-campus university system. To believe otherwise is to put you head in the sand, to think the NCAA has come to town to pat school officials on the head and tell them what a swell job they’ve done.
But in Chapel Hill, there’s no outrage to be seen.
It brings to mind a political cartoon from a few years back. Former state House Speaker Jim Black is portrayed as an Old West sheriff. He’s shown tacking up a wanted poster of himself, while remarking, “Keep an eye out for this guy.”
The sheriff is Athletic Director Dick Baddour. He says the school’s internal review aims to “protect the integrity of the university.”
Does he mean the integrity that’s already disappeared on his watch, or any remaining integrity that slips away with each passing day that Butch Davis remains head football coach?
The school’s chancellor, Holden Thorpe, should fire Davis and Baddour. If he won’t, he should be fired.
There’s no reason to wait. None of the details, playing out day-by-day in the newspapers and on the Internet, are going to mitigate the fact that Davis and Baddour allowed the worst sports scandal in five decades to occur on their watch.
Scott Mooneyham writes about North Carolina politics for the Capitol Press Association.