Point of View

Davis: Education, football and my time at UNC

November 15, 2011 

In my family, education has always held the highest priority. My grandmother, who had a Ph.D., served in public education for more than 50 years. My father obtained a master's degree and worked as a history teacher, guidance counselor and later a principal. My mother was also a teacher. I also have several aunts and cousins who have been educators, principals and school administrators.

My sister and I followed in our parents' footsteps. She earned a master's degree and served as an educator as well as a guidance counselor. Before I became a college and NFL coach, I was a high school biology teacher.

I have spent my entire life around people in education. My family's focus on education played a substantial role in shaping who I am and defining what matters to me.

I have always felt it was critically important that I help students accomplish their goals and dreams both academically as well as athletically. I see nothing wrong with student-athletes pursuing their dreams of a professional football career just as many students pursue careers in music, drama, law, business, education, medicine, etc.

From the very first home visit that I made to a high school recruit in 1979, I have consistently shared with players and their families the vision that the greatest success they can accomplish is watch their son walk across the graduation stage and receive his diploma.

The point is, having students succeed and achieve their dreams of getting a college education is one of my core principles. Any suggestion that I have placed athletic success over academic achievement is just plain wrong.

During the 10 years I was a college head coach, nine of my teams were recognized by the American Football Coaches Association for academic success. During my tenure at Carolina, the SAT scores of incoming freshman football players rose 40 points. In my last two years at UNC, the football team's adjusted graduation rate of 90 percent surpassed that of the general student body.

But academic success doesn't preclude athletic success. During this same 10-year period, 94 players I either coached or recruited went on to the NFL.

I have not spoken about this matter before, because I did not think it was appropriate. With the NCAA hearing over, I now hope to provide some perspective and clarity.

First, I want you to know how sad I am, that the recent events have affected so many people. UNC fans; the UNC community, including the facility, administration and the students; especially our student athletes, our coaches and their families; and my own family.

Second, I have been overwhelmed by the support of friends, faculty, administrators, alums, board of trustees members, board of governors members and the thousands of people who have taken the time and made the effort to reach out to me and my family.

Third, I am disappointed at the misinformation that has surrounded this entire matter. I am not going to provide a point by point rebuttal. Suffice to say much of it is just plain wrong.

While the chancellor was within his rights to do so, I believe the decision he made to end my tenure at Carolina was his alone. As I have stated before, I did not and do not agree with his decision. After all, neither the NCAA nor the university investigation even suggested any wrongdoing on my part.

When I stepped into the University of Miami job, we inherited a football program perceived as rogue and out of control. The NCAA had leveled multiple sanctions, including the loss of 31 scholarships and a bowl ban after the 1995 season. My staff and I changed the entire culture, environment and the perception of the program.

We restored a commitment and pride to education and simultaneously built a team that went 11 and 1, and beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The year after I left Miami, the team won the national championship and played for it again the following year. The personal and professional values I brought to the University of Miami were the same that I brought to UNC. They never changed!

When I accepted the head coaching position at Carolina my family and I had every intention of making this our last coaching stop, and our home forever. We became deeply entrenched in the community and totally invested both emotionally as well as financially in local charities and the university itself. We have made many wonderful friends - people we will cherish and appreciate forever. We are also grateful for the huge support from the UNC fans.

Make no mistake. Wanting to build a championship program is part of my life, and is important to me. But my commitment to education will always rise above it.

Butch Davis was the head football coach at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2007 until July of this year.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service