Baddour: Stability in UNC athletics needed
Posted June 12, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Stability is something that the athletics department at the University of North Carolina has been dancing around for the last couple years. From academic scandal among student-athletes to the unpredictability of conference realignment, strength has been lacking.
Conference expansion has been in the forefront of water cooler conversation for over a year and the ACC has been mentioned as wavering in credibility. Baddour said that it would take an unforeseeable reason for UNC to even consider a move, but added that he is concerned about historic rivalries.
“I cannot imagine what that reason would be (for UNC to leave the ACC),” Baddour said. “Certainly, some have had conversation about that and North Carolina would have a lot of opportunity if they wanted it, but I do not see that happening. I think it’s really important in the ACC that everything is done to maintain the rivalries that make the ACC so strong. I’m disappointed that we will not be playing NC State in basketball every year and I think there are other rivalries. I think that makes you strong. I think that keeps the fan interest and keeps people coming to games.”
Baddour reiterated that UNC was against the initial ACC expansion from nine to 12 in the mid-2000s for the reason of preserving rivalries and his feelings haven’t changed. Pointing out that he had no inside information, Baddour said that, for now at least, he believes conference movement has reached a level of establishment.
But that is not the only instability involving UNC athletics. Facing a postseason ban and reduced scholarships, adjusting to an entirely new coaching staff and athletics director and getting past a deep-rooted scandal still lingers.
“I hope it’s coming to an end. It needs to come to an end for the institution, for the football program and for the athletics program,” Baddour said referring to the academic scandal that has taken a toll on the program and university alike. “It’s very concerning, the latest stuff that has come out; it doesn’t look good, even if it was above board. Everything that casts doubt on the academic process is concerning and is going to remain ongoing until the institution pushes it to a conclusion. I think that will happen, I just hope it happens soon.”
In the most recent developments involving disgraced professor and former African and Afro-American Studies Chair Julius Nyang'oro, UNC has asked him to repay $12,000 for teaching a 2011 summer course as an independent study rather than a lecture. The decision by the university to ask for the collection arose from an internal investigation that found 54 African and Afro-American Studies classes over a four-year span had little or no indication of instruction and at least 10 cases of unauthorized grade changes for students who didn't do all the work.
“We have been looking at the major selection of our student-athletes for I’d say the last 20 years and there’s no evidence, whatsoever, that either encourages or discourages them from taking majors,” Baddour said. “Students are allowed to choose what they want to choose. They should have access to anything that any other student on the campus has. I’m not concerned about that. What I am concerned about is when last summer, you see that sort of concentration within a course, not a major, but a course, when our antenna should have been up.”
With the belief that the worst details of the scandal have been revealed, Baddour said that the next steps are crucial. He believes that Chancellor Holden Thorp, new athletics director Bubba Cunningham and new head football coach Larry Fedora have taken the appropriate steps, but it is important that they be allowed to get back to their outlined job descriptions soon.
“I believe that Larry and Bubba are doing everything they can, but the academic stuff needs to come to some closure,” Baddour said. “The unfortunate part for (Thorpe) is he has had to spend way too much time on athletic matters and that’s not good for the institution.
“The important thing now is that we correct it and we fix it. Not just that we just move on, but we move on with a defined plan to see that it never happens again.”