UNC coach Davis sought help for players

Counseling was provided

staff writerDecember 9, 2010 

North Carolina football coach Butch Davis feared frustration and pent-up anger from the NCAA investigation was potentially destructive for the players involved in the investigation and sought counseling for them in September, according to an e-mail from Davis to UNC athletic director Dick Baddour.

Davis cited the suicides of two football players, one by an NFL player in September and one by a college player in April, as a reason to get help for the UNC players.

In an e-mail recently obtained by The News & Observer as part of a public records request, Davis wrote:

"I have great fear this situation with our players has the potential of manifesting itself in a way that could be destructive to our players."

Davis clarified "destructive" as potential problems with alcohol, substance abuse or a fight on Chapel Hill's Franklin Street or "in our own facility."

The e-mail is dated Sept. 22 and was sent with the subject line "Counseling" to Baddour and copied to UNC chancellor Holden Thorp. Davis wrote that there was "clearly a great deal of pent up anger, frustration, and animosity, in these players."

Davis wrote in the e-mail that he had asked team trainer Scott Trulock and team physician Dr. Mario Ciocca to set up a meeting and future availability with Dr. Bradley Hack, the sports psychologist for the athletic department.

Davis wrote that he wanted to make sure the players had continual access to Hack or another counselor.

"In light of the fact that it is probably going to be more weeks before we get any resolution, we should talk about this issue," Davis wrote.

Baddour said Wednesday the school followed up on Davis' request and that counseling was provided to the players.

Efforts to reach Davis were unsuccessful.

Davis continued in the e-mail: "Each day I see more frustration, anger, and sadness. To these sixteen kids, this season and their future was everything to them and their families."

Fourteen players missed at least one game and seven missed the entire season, including NFL prospects defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and receiver Greg Little, during the investigation into improper benefits from sports agents and academic misconduct.

At the time of the e-mail, UNC had an 0-2 record and had not been given any of the punishments for the players from the NCAA.

Denver Broncos receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead of a gunshot wound in his Denver apartment on Sept. 20. It was subsequently ruled a suicide. Penn defensive end Owen Thomas hanged himself in April. As Davis wrote in the e-mail, both players were believed to be dealing with depression.

jp.giglio@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8938

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