Tudor: Davis will keep job despite transgressions

Staff WriterJune 22, 2011 

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UNC coach Butch Davis and his players go through their pre-game drills prior to their game against Tennsssee on Thursday December 30, 2009 at the Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.

ROBERT WILLETT — ROBERT WILLETT - rwillett@newsobserver.com

While issues with the NCAA remain, it is likely that North Carolina football coach Butch Davis will be tasked with leading the program as UNC emerges from this marathon investigation.

In the NCAA letter of allegations released Tuesday by the school, a lot of people are mentioned in the year-long investigation into the conduct of the school's coaches, players and support staff.

There's John Blake, of course.

The former associate head coach, who resigned after receiving a parting check for almost $75,000 early in September, is cited by the NCAA for unethical behavior and maintaining a direct business relationship with the late agent Gary Wichard.

Former program tutor Jennifer Wiley is accused of providing wrongful academic help to players.

Former Carolina player Chris Hawkins is implicated for rules violations in his relationship with recent players.

But nowhere is Davis strongly linked to any sort of smoking gun. And that being the case, the fifth-year coach can be expected to have the opportunity to win enough games to help erase the embarrassment of the investigation.

That Davis was at the wheel when things went awry is obvious. His action - or inaction - in the trouble will be debated long past the 2011 season.

But he's long had the enthusiastic support of the school's fans and administration. Both groups stood by Davis even when the implications of the investigation seemed foreboding.

"I feel terrible that these allegations occurred under my watch," the coach said in a statement released by the school. "I especially regret that the university has had to endure this scrutiny because of the football program. The responsibility for correcting any problems that put us in this position is mine, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

"I want to thank our fans for the tremendous support we have received. Their loyalty and support has been especially appreciated by our student-athletes. The opportunity I have to serve the University of North Carolina is one that I cherish, and I will continue to focus on improving every aspect of our football program."

The process isn't over, of course. Several steps still lie ahead before Carolina gets the final verdict from the NCAA. Punishments of some sort are virtually certain to occur.

In the weeks and months ahead, Davis and his school may have to forfeit scholarships and wins in addition to the image damage that long ago began to surface.

But come September and an opening game against James Madison in remodeled Kenan Stadium, the primary issue again will be winning big, which is why Davis and his assistants were hired in the first place.

caulton.tudor@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8946

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