Cunningham active in first days on job as UNC AD
Posted November 15, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C. — 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.
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.