Thorp backs Heels football coach

UNC chancellor Holden Thorp says football coach Butch Davis did not appear to break rules.

Staff WriterNovember 5, 2010 

— North Carolina football coach Butch Davis did not appear to play a role in the violations currently being investigated by the NCAA and is not in danger of losing his job, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said Thursday.

Thorp's statements Thursday morning were the chancellor's strongest yet in support of Davis, whose team has been the subject of NCAA scrutiny for more than three months. It was not a blanket endorsement, however, of Davis.

An NCAA probe that started this summer as an investigation into whether UNC football players had received improper benefits from agents has expanded to include possible academic violations involving a tutor.

Speaking to members of the UNC system's Board of Governors, which sets policy for all of the state's public universities, Thorp said he still needs to understand why Davis was not more aware of the questionable behavior of some of his football players.

He added, however, that Davis did not appear to break any rules.

"There's no information to indicate that he participated in or knew of any wrongdoing," Thorp said in an interview following his meeting with the governing board. "[Athletic director Dick] Baddour and I are not having meetings deciding his future. He's our football coach."

Fourteen Tar Heels players have missed some or all of the season because of the investigation; three - senior defensive tackle Marvin Austin, senior wide receiver Greg Little and junior defensive end Robert Quinn - are no longer eligible to play in college because of improper trips and gifts they received. A total of six players have been sidelined for the entire season. Those suspected of cheating have been sent to the university honor court.

"Some have had agent issues, and some have had academic issues," Thorp said. "And some have had both."

The status of two players, fullback Devon Ramsay and defensive end Michael McAdoo, has not been resolved.

Since the violations were first unearthed more than three months ago, the university has conducted more than 60 interviews with athletes, coaches and others, Thorp said.

The NCAA has visited UNC six times as part of its investigation, and the Secretary of State's office has logged two campus visits as well, Thorp said.

eric.ferreri@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2008

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