The University of North Carolina is a school that has long prided itself upon the foundation of integrity—vehemently performing under the proper guidelines. Yet, North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp sat squarely on his hands throughout the entire fiasco surrounding the Chapel Hill football program—firing Butch Davis never appeared to be an option. Thorp even allowed Davis to make the journey to Pinehurst and field a considerable amount of questions revolving around the troubles of the past year. Two days later?
What was the reasoning for the sudden change of heart? Did something else that occurred during the investigation prompt it? Thorp declared that was not the case. He had suddenly decided that he had “lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution.” Thorp continued to preach about the academic integrity of his institution. “Our academic integrity is paramount, and we must work diligently to protect it,” Thorp said in a statement. “The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change.”
If this is the case, then why did Thorp continually sit back and wait and refuse to fire Davis until right before the start of fall camp? Was the academic integrity of North Carolina not nearly as important throughout last football season—a season that many predicted would lead to great things for the Tarheel program? Where was the worry for the academic integrity of the institution while former Coach Davis was fielding a barrage of questions at Pinehurst several days ago? Answer—Nowhere to be found.
However, there is one piece of coincidental evidence that seems to be slipping the mind of Thorp when speaking about the dismissal of his former coach. Remember the previously mentioned term sacrificed? There was a reason for alluding to Davis becoming the sacrificial lamb.
Ohio State, also undergoing a similar reaming from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, was informed of their ability to skirt the dreaded, “Lack of Institutional Control” moniker from the investigatory team of the NCAA. A result that many thought would never be possible for the litany of rules violations that occurred under the watch of Jim Tressel and the university’s athletic department. Word spread like the Texas wildfires that the reasoning they managed to maneuver past the most damning terminology in the rule book that resides in Indianapolis was the firing of Jim Tressel. Ohio State and their internal hierarchy used Tressel as a scapegoat—albeit a handsomely paid scapegoat.
Doesn’t this situation sound eerily similar to one that just occurred in Chapel Hill?
Butch Davis fired amidst strife and scandal throughout the program, following a long and faithful attempt to support his employment by the university. Eventually, to save the proverbial face of the school, the coach is “terminated” and sent away in a golden chariot of booster funding and university money.
I hope that the powers that be at North Carolina aren’t so naïve to believe that replicating the situation at Ohio State will derive a similar punishment.
Monkey see, Monkey do, though.
Right, Mr. Thorp?
Derrick Stacy is the owner, founder and lead content editor of Sports-at-Work, http://www.sports-at-work.com, and is a columnist at http://www.southernpigskin.com