It is too early to tell whether North Carolina's investigation into possible academic misconduct extends beyond the football team, athletic director Dick Baddour said Friday.
"As I said [Thursday] night, we will use this as an opportunity to look into every aspect of the program; we're early in the process, so part of what we're doing is evolving, so I don't want to get into the details of what other sports could be involved," Baddour said in a phone interview.
"But the first thing you want to do is see, in this particular case, who the tutor was registered to be working with, and who was assigned to her - and do due diligence in those areas. You've got to keep in mind that we're not at the end, but as I said last night, we are past the beginning. So I'm not prepared to say. ... I don't think we can include or exclude anything."
Baddour, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp and football coach Butch Davis announced during a news conference on Thursday night that the school is investigating whether a tutor - who was employed by both UNC and Davis - committed academic misconduct while working with football players. A source familiar with the investigation said the issue involves inappropriate help on papers the football players were required to write for class. No. 18 UNC opens the football season next Saturday against LSU in Atlanta, and it's unclear when, if or how many players might be suspended for the game.
Although Baddour would not name the tutor or the athletes involved, he clarified several points to The News & Observer on Friday:
The school started looking into the possible misconduct when a player being interviewed during the NCAA's investigation into possible improprieties with sports agents brought up the tutor's name. That interview, however, was not associated with any academic issue, Baddour said, and the player did not bring up the tutor's name in an academic context. But once UNC heard the tutor's name, "we thought we should do our due diligence, and started looking into things."
Baddour said that the tutor was employed by the university before she was hired by Davis. When Davis signed on to become head football coach in the fall of 2006, he approached the academic support office and asked for suggestions for an academic adviser to tutor his son, Drew (who is now 17 and the starting quarterback at East Chapel Hill High). "She had been involved in the academic support program, and I'm confident in saying at that time, she was highly regarded," Baddour said. He said that Davis did not put his players in contact with the tutor.
Asked if he was "confident" that only one tutor was involved, Baddour said that was too strong of a word. "We're towards the beginning or middle. We have due diligence to do. At this point, using a point like 'confident', would mean it [the investigation] is toward the end. I just know that we're going to take the steps that we need to take to look into all aspects of it. So that means you have to set some priorities. We need to put some resources into this, and we need to take care of what's immediate. When we complete that work without taking a deep breath, we'll go to another stage until we are done."
Baddour - with Thorp's blessing - was the person who appointed former athletic faculty representative Jack Evans, former faculty president Lissa Broome, senior associate athletic director John Blanchard and director of compliance Lance Markos to lead the school's investigation.
Team spokesman Kevin Best said that all of UNC's football players are scheduled to meet with fans at tonight's "Meet the Heels" event at Kenan Stadium. Baddour said: "I hope our fans will come, and enjoy this team and embrace this team. This team needs the support of Carolina fans as much as any time."
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