North Carolina

Cunningham active in first days on job as UNC AD

Posted November 15, 2011

— After just two days at the helm, new University of North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham says he's feeling right at home and Chapel Hill has been "outstanding" to him.

Cunningham officially began his job Monday after longtime AD Dick Baddour decided to step down after head football coach Butch Davis was fired on July 28.

"If you are in college athletics, you think about the best colleges in the country and North Carolina is right there," Cunningham said in an interview with WRAL-TV Tuesday.

Hartness: Cunninghams takes over AD duties at UNC Hartness: Cunningham takes over AD duties at UNC

Still, Cunningham is taking over during a difficult time.

The school still hasn't learned what penalties, if any, the NCAA will dole out as a result of the football investigation.

"I'm concerned about the report,” Cunningham said. “I have anxiety over it, but from all indications, we are hopeful that the self imposed penalties are appropriate."

UNC self imposed two years probation, nine scholarship reductions over the next three years and a fine after the NCAA alleged nine major violations involving the football team. They also vacated 16 wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The self-imposed penalties don't include a bowl ban.

"We obviously work with the NCAA and hope that there is not (further sanctions), but you never know," he said.

Cunningham said he's confident the compliance staff and the school did all they could to cooperate with the NCAA.

Cunningham will also be looking to hire a permanent football coach after the season ends. He said interim head coach Everett Withers will be in the mix.

“He'll certainly be a candidate, but I'm continuing to look (and) make sure that we come up with the best person that can lead our program long-term that can win and can find students that fit the university very well,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham doesn't think the possibility of NCAA sanctions will deter candidates - and points out it didn't scare him away.

"I think Carolina's reputation is outstanding,” he said. “I'm here. I knew that there were some issues."

Cunningham said right now he's focused on learning more about UNC and its culture. He said he'll then be able to pick the right person to lead the football program. It's a hire he knows people will be watching.

"We want all of our coaches to be outstanding leaders and role models for our students and football is another sport, but obviously the basketball and football programs are exceptionally visible so you want those people to lead with integrity," Cunningham said.

Baddour's contract runs until June. Cunningham says he is anxious for his family to join him in Chapel Hill after the school year ends in Tulsa.

Cunningham comes to UNC with a strong background in the academic side of college athletics. He guided both Ball State and Tulsa universities to nationally acclaimed academic levels.

Cunningham was a unanimous selection by the Board of Trustees to succeed Baddour in October and becomes just the seventh athletic director in UNC-CH history.

51 Comments

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  • cherokeetomahawk Nov 17, 2011

    Who knows? More importantly, who cares? I would prefer to see both programs retain good coaches that could "go the distance". And I presume, given the present circumstances, the distance is approximately seven years.

    Both schools are certainly capable of placing good teams on the gridiron. Also, this can be accomplished without some team members breaking the rules.

    We have all witnessed a few of the kids involved with the football program at UNC
    and how they can make life miserable for everyone. And, by the way, NC State is not "lily white" either.

    There was a time when K-Mart could not keep men's under ware in stock due to a few rotten apples from State's basketball team. As a matter of fact, when they entered the floor at Cameron, they were barraged with garments tossed on the floor by the "crazies."

    This is not an attempt to bring forth hatred and ugliness. It's a statement of fact that one who lives in glass houses...well, you know the rest.

    UNC needs an AD with principle, integrity and honesty. Since Davis is a commodity in the past, why not seek a coach with the same attributes as the AD?

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    Really hard to say. That's about as pure as speculation as can be.

    The proof may just be in the pudding. We'll know that in a couple more weeks I guess.

    And heelman, at least you quoted your source! Or did your tutor? :)

  • Ken D. Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    Why does the answer have to be that one or the other should be the choice? Over the past 30 years or so, these two schools have had almost identical records. They are 30 miles apart. They play in the same conference.

    Maybe a better question would have been "how likely are these two schools to be interested in the same candidate(s)?" Do the schools themselves have a different view of what kind of coach would suit them - and their fans? If you removed the issue of sanctions from the equation, would you have a different view? Go back just a few years, before scandal, before Yow. Make the money equal. Would one school be able to attract a coach the other one couldn't?

  • heelman73 Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    Whatever!!!! (1)

    (1) Debbie Yow press conference, April 5, 2011 (No-one is going to accuse me of plagiarism. :-))

  • heelman73 Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    Peterson probably UNC because of his son's medical condition. Holtz probably State because his dad coached there. That's assuming all other factors being equal, of course.

    Hell, who am I kidding? All other factors are never going to be equal. The pending sanctions are going to be a huge factor for lots of coaches. The way Thorp handled the Davis firing is going to be an issue for a lot of coaches. As was discussed somewhere earlier, the earnings potential is probably always going to be larger at UNC because of the ability to command higher interest from those concerned with marketability (radio, tv, shoe companies, etc).

    I think I'll stick with my original statement. It depends on the guy. :-)

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    I don't see a good answer to this question.

    A) If the answer is State, the Holes will just blame it on their sanctions.
    B) If the answer is Carolina, that means their football coaching job is more attractive than State's DESPITE their sanctions.

    I suppose the dollar amounts could have an impact on which program is more appealing to a coach. If Carolina is offering $3.2 mil and we're offering $2.2 mil, which one would you choose?

    Not knocking Debbie Yow, but there are probably SOME coaches that do not want to work for a female AD. Plus, Gary Williams is probably out there still sabotaging her coaching search (if and when she starts one!)

  • Ken D. Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    Way to take a stand. :)

    OK, how about Petersen, Skip Holtz, Steve Logan, Greg Schiano to name a few.

  • heelman73 Nov 16, 2011

    View quoted thread


    It would depend on who the guy is.

  • Ken D. Nov 16, 2011

    Here's a question for you. State and Carolina might be looking for a coach at the same time. If both of them were interested in the same guy, which one would have the better chance of landing him?

    Now, if you will excuse me, I'll duck out of the line of fire. ;)

  • oldman48 Nov 16, 2011

    I think Bubba is going to have a very difficult time finding a quality coach, even at the $3.2 million per year talked about. No coach would want to work for the chancellor over there (Thorpe)! The next hurdle they need to clear is getting rid of Holden Thorpe!

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