Allegations beg the question of blame
Posted June 22, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Nine major violations.
The NCAA’s long-awaited Notice of Allegations arrived in the mail Tuesday in Chapel Hill and the nuts and bolts of it is that the University of North Carolina is accused of committing nine major violations. Most of the wrong-doing we already knew about, but there’s always something lurking beneath the surface that adds an additional layer to the story. Tucked into the last of the violations, included in the “failure to monitor” category, is the under-the-radar, Columbus-like charge that the school knew of possible violations concerning impermissable benefits and did not “adequately follow up on information provided by (the student-athlete)”.
Did someone not know whom to call?
The tutor story, we knew. Jennifer Wiley, a former employee of both the university AND Butch Davis’ family, was accused of doing classwork, providing transportation and paying the parking fines for as many as nine different players totalling nearly $1,800. She also refused to cooperate with the NCAA and the University, which made things more difficult for both parties.
We also knew about the gifts and trips and parties that were connected to prominent NFL agents and agencies in which as many as seven players received benefits worth more than $27,000. Among the people accused of providing those benefits were former players Hakeem Nicks, Kentwan Balmer and Chris Hawkins – the latter classified as an agent by the NCAA. Also cited were prominant NFL agents, including Michael Katz, Director of Marketing & Client Services for Rosenhaus Sports and longtime NFL agent Gary Wichard – who passed away in March after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
And, while we also knew of the involvement of John Blake, the defensive line coach and associate head coach under Butch Davis, it bears repeating his deep involvement on many fronts that are central to the problems faced by UNC.
Blake long-denied ever working for Gary Wichard’s Pro Tect Management in spite of evidence that linked him financially and professionally to that company. It was ultimately discovered that Blake, during his employment at North Carolina, still possessed a PTM company credit card. He lied to the university about this connection, he provided “false and misleading information” to the NCAA during the investigation, and was accused of trying to steer players to Wichard’s management group.
Somehow, with nine major violations, the head football coach has escaped responsibility. Butch Davis feels terrible that this happened, “on my watch”, and says that correcting the problems is a mission that he takes, “very seriously.” And, I’m sure he’s being sincere, just as I know athleteic director Dick Baddour is when he noted the university’s disappointment to be in this position. Chancellor Holden Thorp echoed those same sentiments Tuesday, and went on to say that they’ll, “emerge with a stronger athletics program and restore confidence in Carolina football.”
White noise, fellas.
Players suffered, led by those that never again wore the uniform. John Blake was fired – with pay, for reasons we can only assume were to ward off any legal proceedings to collect monies he really didn’t deserve. And, the school forfeited their reputation as a place that does things “the Carolina Way”.
But, the man who hired Blake, known throughout the coaching industry as a recruiter who didn’t just push the envelope of the NCAA rule book but ignored it all together. The head coach, Butch Davis, has not only been absent of any university punishment, but he’s been hailed as the solution to the problem. In all fairness, Davis did come up with idea for the “sign-out sheet”, so we’re on the right path.
Davis has known Blake for more than 30 years. For a huge chunk of that they coached together. Is someone trying to tell us sorry? Is the University trying to tell us that they don’t believe that Davis knew what the entire coaching community knew, that Blake didn’t follow the rules? Please, stop insulting our collective intelligence.
Did Davis know how Blake was doing what he was doing? Did Davis know that Blake was on the payroll of a longtime NFL agent and was charged with directing players – including some he didn’t actually coach – towards that agency? Did Davis know about the parties and the jewelery and the trips that were lavished on his future NFL star players? I’m sure the answer to those questions is “no” across the board.
But, that makes Davis even more responsible the way I see it. He hired Blake, with no regard for the reputation he brought with him to Chapel Hill. Isn’t that enough to warrant disciplinary action by the school that goes beyond not “rewarding” Davis with a contract extension and a raise that he didn’t deserve in the first place? I guess not.
The University of North Carolina pushed all their chips to the middle of the table last fall when they vociferously backed Davis and called him the right man to see us through these difficult times. If Davis was going to be fired, they’d have done so at the end of the season, before he nearly screwed up the 2-minute drill that helped defeat Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.
No, Davis is now part of the furniture at Kenan Stadium, there for the duration. It leads me to believe that Mr. Baddour and Chancellor Thorp aren’t really calling the shots. Because, as Carolina lifers, they know better than to allow the school’s reputation to take this kind of a hit without the person responsible taking the blame. To me, the strings are being pulled by the wallets of big money boosters who only want to compete at the highest possible level in football as though that’s the most important part of life at the University of North Carolina.
What it brought to Chapel Hill was nine major violations.
Or, one more than the most wins Butch Davis has registered in any of the four seasons with the Tar Heels.