O'Brien fires back at Withers' comments
Posted November 3, 2011
Things are becoming nasty between UNC Interim Head Coach Everett Withers and NCSU Head Coach Tom O’Brien.
On Wednesday in an interview with 99.9 The Fan ESPN Radio Withers said, “When you have as many schools in this state as you have and the recruiting base gets watered down a little bit, I think the kids in this state need to know ‘the flagship school'.”
“They need to know it academically," Withers continued. "If you look at our graduation rates opposed to our opponent this week’s graduation rates for football, I think you’ll see a difference. If you look at the educational environment here, I think you’ll see a difference.”
Tom O’Brien was quick to fire a rebuttal during his usual weekly Thursday availability with the media.
“As far as the flagship, here was a guy (Withers) who was on a football staff that ends up in Indianapolis," O'Brien said, “You have an agent on staff, you are paying players & you have academic fraud. That's a triple play as far as the NCAA is concerned."
O’Brien also had a response to the academic questions that Withers raised on Wednesday by saying, “At our school, number one, all classes have a syllabus. Our guys go to school, they are not given grades, and they graduate.”
Withers opened up his media availability Thursday by addressing the comments made on The Fan Wednesday saying it was "out of pride for his university" and was not intended to take a shot at NC State.
Reports Thursday afternoon that UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp called to appologize to NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson regarding Withers' remarks were denied by UNC. In an email response to an inquiry, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations Nancy Davis said:
"The chancellors talked this afternoon. They’re good friends and have great respect for their institutions. The coaches were just engaging in a little rivalry-week talk. That’s all it was."
UNC and NC State will face off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. You can watch the game on WRAL-TV 5.