DeCock

A year later, it's still 'wait and see' at UNC

Staff WriterJuly 22, 2011 

— A year ago, Butch Davis stood up before the Pigskin Preview and said the NCAA investigation into the North Carolina football program would go "as quickly as possible."

A year later, Davis was back at the Washington Duke Inn, still the Tar Heels' coach, but with the school now accused of nine major violations by the NCAA and a hearing still three months away. This time, Davis counseled patience.

"Everybody said back in August and September and October that this is a process," Davis said. "It's going to take some time."

Given everything that has transpired in the past 12 months, Davis would be forgiven for wondering if he'd even be invited to another Pigskin Preview.

After all, those nine major alleged violations include an assistant coach in cahoots with an agent, an alum considered an agent apparently given free run of the football complex, and the exploits of Jennifer Wiley, tutor to the stars, who also worked for Davis in his home. Fourteen players missed at least one game, and seven missed the entire season.

That's a lot of stuff to stack on one coach's plate, particularly when the only defense he has offered is ignorance that any of this went on within the program he's paid a healthy amount to oversee. Yet Davis said Thursday that he never thought his job was in jeopardy.

"I fully expected to be the football coach," Davis said. "I've been very, very fortunate. I've got great support from the administration, the board of trustees, the athletic director, Chancellor (Holden) Thorp."

Why would Davis ever wonder? The athletic director and chancellor have lined up behind him, as have the donors footing the enormous bill for the Butch Mahal rising in Kenan Stadium's east end zone. The academic community has been oddly quiet about the multiple allegations of academic fraud. The NCAA didn't mention Davis' name in connection with the alleged violations.

Still, it's too soon to say Davis has escaped unscathed. The Committee on Infractions has commanded his presence at October's hearing, and Davis confirmed Thursday that he would appear as requested. The committee could yet have something to say about Davis' role in the scandal.

It'll take some time for resolution in that department, but if the past year has shown anything, it's not to be surprised by where the NCAA's investigation is headed.

A year ago, John Blake and Chris Hawkins were proud representatives of the university, not wince-worthy embarrassments. A year ago, no one outside the football program or the Davis household had heard the name "Jennifer Wiley." A year ago, the investigation had yet to spawn two separate lawsuits against the university, one by a group of media organizations led by The News & Observer in (successful) pursuit of public records related to the investigation, the other by Michael McAdoo against UNC and the NCAA seeking his reinstatement.

A year ago, Davis said he didn't know where this was headed. He's still saying that now. A year has gone by, so much has happened, and nothing has changed.

luke.decock@newsobserver.com, twitter.com/LukeDeCock or 919-829-8947

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