Butch Davis should resign as North Carolina's football coach.
If that doesn't happen - and soon - the school needs to dismiss Davis. In view of the revelations of the past several months, his removal from the job is the single most necessary step in the rehabilitation process for the school and the football program.
On Thursday, Davis said he does not plan to step down. And he has repeatedly received support from UNC chancellor Holden Thorp and athletic director Dick Baddour.
But when you look at Davis' contract, it gets harder to defend his continued employment.
Here is a clause in Davis' contract under the just cause for dismissal heading:
A violation by COACH, or knowing participation by COACH in a violation, or a violation by the assistant coaches under COACH'S supervision of which COACH had reason to know, should have known through the exercise of his duties under this agreement, or which COACH condoned, of a major NCAA regulation or bylaw, or of a policy of or applicable to UNIVERSITY. For purposes of this Section IX (b), whether or not a violation has occurred shall be reasonably determined in the sole discretion of UNIVERSITY after its review of the relevant facts and circumstances."
The investigation is ongoing, but there is ample reason to believe that violations have occurred. Thirteen players missed the season opener on Sept. 4 against LSU in connection to NCAA and UNC investigations over possible improper contacts with sports agents and possible academic misconduct. Nine are still ineligible to play.
Associate head coach and chief recruiter John Blake resigned just days after the university learned that he had received payments from sports agent Gary Wichard. Blake's lawyer said Thursday the payments were made before he went to work for UNC.
Asked about the former coach Thursday, Thorp said, "What we did [in reaching a settlement with Blake] was the cheapest, most efficient way we could separate ourselves from John Blake."
It's reasonable to ask why Davis did not know more about Blake's relationship with Wichard. On Thursday, Blake's lawyer Wade Smith described Blake and Wichard, who have known each other for more than 25 years, as being "like brothers."
Davis is in charge of the football program and hired Blake as a top assistant and lead recruiter. It seems fair to expect that part of Davis' duties would be to know as much as possible about his assistant's friendship with a high-powered sports agent - and recognize that the relationship could lead to trouble.
Baddour's support for the coach he helped bring in is understandable to a point, of course. Having hired and fired Carl Torbush and John Bunting previously, it's only natural that Baddour wants Davis to succeed.
But how long can the administration stand by and watch one damaging revelation after another?
And can anyone possibly think the school now is going to escape all of this trouble without incurring a heavy NCAA probation?
For the past 10 weeks, there has been a pattern of mismanagement that flows at least into Davis' office.
What's going to erupt next? That's the question that Carolina fans have been asking since the middle of July.
There's an argument to be made that Davis is a good man and a good coach who made at least one really bad hire.
But none of that changes the fact that too many missteps have been made for Davis to remain in charge of the program.
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