Davis out as UNC coach
Posted July 27, 2011
Updated December 13, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C. — After more than a year under the NCAA microscope, Butch Davis has been fired as the head football coach at the University of North Carolina.
“To restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program, it’s time to make a change,” said UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp. “What started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this university’s reputation."
"I was honestly shocked to receive word that I will no longer be the head football coach at the University of North Carolina," Davis said in a statement. "I can honestly say I leave with full confidence that I have done nothing wrong."
Thorp said the decision was not related to any change in the NCAA investigation, but that it was the result of the cumulative damage to the university’s reputation over the past year.
"I have been deliberate in my approach to understanding this situation fully, and I have worked to be fair to everyone involved," Thorp said. "However, I have lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution. Our academic integrity is paramount, and we must work diligently to protect it. The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change.”
Thorp said he made the decision to fire Davis with the full support of the Board of Trustees.
"It wasn't an easy decision, but I believe it's the right decision for the University," Board of Governors chairman Hannah Gage said in support of Thorp's decision. "The Chancellor made it clear today that he's not willing to compromise the University's academic integrity or its reputation."
Another Board of Governor member, Fred Eshelman gave no comment and "will await whatever fact pattern ultimately becomes public."
University president Tom Ross also supported Thorp's decision.
"This has been a difficult decision for the Chancellor, but I am pleased that he made the decision only after receiving and studying all of the facts so that he would both be fair to the individuals involved and look out for the best interests of the University," Ross said. "He believes deeply in academic integrity and understands that academic integrity and a successful athletics program are both achievable simultaneously. For this to happen, he has now concluded that a change in the football program is necessary."
The NCAA began investigating the UNC football program last summer on allegations that players got improper benefits or had engaged in disallowed relationships with agents and boosters. In December, UNC identified 10 people – three of them former players – who provided some benefit to players on the 2010 UNC team.
The university also conducted an internal investigation into allegations of academic misconduct by players. Improprieties were found in player relations with a tutor, Jennifer Wiley. Senior Michael McAdoo was one of the players found to have accepted improper benefits from Wiley and was ruled ineligible for the 2010 season. Recently, media outlets have determined that much of a paper he wrote with her help had been plagiarized.
Fourteen players missed some or all of the games played in the 2010 season. The NCAA declared two of them, wide receiver Greg Little and defensive end Robert Quinn, permanently ineligible, and UNC kicked a third, defensive tackle Marvin Austin, off the team.
“Athletics and football are an important part of this university, and a successful football program is essential to the overall health of our athletic program,” Thorp said. “That’s why we have to put this behind us and move forward.”
Joe Cheshire, the lawyer for Wiley disagrees with the school's decision to fire Davis.
"I think the decision was wrong," Cheshire said. "I think the timing was wrong. I think the reasoning was wrong. I think the leadership has failed the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."
Baddour said that the last year was one of the most difficult times the football program and the fans had endured. In announcing the change, he praised Davis for his on-field service.
“I want to thank Butch Davis and his family for their four-plus years of service and dedication to the university and the Chapel Hill community,” Baddour said. “My staff and I will work with Chancellor Thorp to transition to an interim head coach as soon as possible. It is critical that we do all we can to help our students and other staff members on the football team since preseason training camp begins in just eight days.”
Players support Butch Davis
At the ACC Football Kickoff held in Pinehurst last weekend, players voiced their support for Davis as their head coach.
“I completely support Butch Davis,” junior offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper said. “(I) love him to death. He’s a players' coach.”
Former defensive back Deunta Williams told Adam & Joe on 99.9FM The Fan ESPN radio Wednesday he imagines the players are angry.
"Coach Davis is a players coach, so all the players love Coach Davis," Williams said. "My heart goes out to his family and the football team as well. I would guess the guys are just angry this close to the football season that they have to go through this again, I think this is a direct correlation to what the players had to go through last year."
Other former and current UNC athletes voiced their support on twitter.
Davis produced a 28-23 record in four years at the helm of UNC. He took the Tar Heels to a bowl game in each of the past three seasons, winning the Music City bowl in 2010. However, Davis never finished better than third in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Davis’ career collegiate record stands at 79-43. He spent six seasons as the head coach of Miami winning three Big East titles and going 4-0 in bowl games. He left Miami for a stint in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. In four seasons Davis had a 24-34 record and led the Browns to the postseason in 2002.
Terms of contract
Butch Davis was in the third year of a seven-year contract that paid him $315,000 in base salary annually. With a retention bonus of $157,000 for every year he was to remain employed and an escalating scale of supplemental bonuses that had grown to quarterly payments of $312,500, Davis was bringing in over $1 million yearly. The current contract runs through Jan. 15, 2015.
If Davis is deemed to have been "terminated without cause", the university would be liable for paying out $275,000, plus his base annual salary, multiplied by the number of full and partial contract years remaining - roughly $2.7 million.
If it is deemed that the university has "cause" in Davis' termination, they would not be responsible for further payment.
In section IX of Davis' contract, "cause" can be determined by a violation of one of six items. The first such article states, "material failure to perform any of the duties specified in Section II."
Section II.a states, "directing and conducting the Football Program in keeping with the educational purpose of and the traditions, integrity and ethics of the UNIVERSITY." Section II.b states, "...promoting and encouraging academic progress, in conjunction with the faculty and UNIVERSITY..." Section II.c states, "conducting himself and the Football Program in accordance with all applicable rules regulations and policies and of applicable to UNIVERSITY and in accordance with the Constitution, bylaws, legislation and regulations of the ACC and of the National Collegiate Athletic Association..."
The university Board of Trustees met Wednesday starting at 1 p.m. in a closed-door session. It was the first such meeting for new members of the board, who serve four-year terms that expire on July 1 of odd-numbered years.