Sorensen: Heels' football program, Davis deserved sanctions

staff columnist - tsorensen@charlotteobserver.comMarch 13, 2012 


UNC head coach Butch Davis embraces UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp as they celebrate the Tar Heels' victory over Duke in 2010.

ROBERT WILLETT — 2010 News & Observer file photo

Under head coach Butch Davis, North Carolina football was like a kid whose parents allowed him to do anything he wanted while they talked on their cell phone in another room.

There was little discipline. But there were some cool agent-sponsored parties.

Most of the North Carolina graduates I know are ashamed of the program. They want to believe their school stands for something. They did believe that. They were wrong.

The Tar Heels were Ohio State South, Miami North and Southern California East.

Walk out of Kenan Stadium at the end of the Davis years – he was fired seven months ago – and you wanted to take a hot shower, but only after scraping the bottom of your shoes.

In the world of NCAA violations, North Carolina collected the whole set. Davis hired as his head recruiter and chief assistant John Blake, and Blake allowed an agent inside.

A tutor enabled players to engage in academic fraud.

Ineligible players competed.

Illicit benefits were accepted.

The NCAA found nine major violations.

As a result, I expected the sanctions the NCAA announced Monday to be more severe.

North Carolina, however, got one thing right. The Tar Heels acknowledged their misdeeds and cooperated with investigators.

How many times has an athlete, celebrity, politician or official been caught cheating and compounded his or her mistake by lying about it?

The Tar Heels still take a reasonable hit. They won’t be eligible for a bowl in 2012 and they’ll give up 15 scholarships over three seasons.

The NCAA did omit one penalty: The Tar Heels forfeit the right to condescend.

For decades, North Carolina won or lost the right way. While schools in the Carolinas, ACC, SEC and Southeast were caught cheating, the Tar Heels avoided serious scandal. As a result, their fans were free to take shots at violators. And they did.

The lesser among those fans will continue to. But they have no credibility.

I doubt that North Carolina, or any other school, holds a staff meeting at which somebody suggests, “Let’s cheat.”

Tired of mediocrity, coaches simply choose to stop caring what their charges do.

So Davis hires Blake, and a tutor does much more than allowed and here’s a cool little party thrown by an agent, y’all come, Tar Heels, and how about a little plagiarism on the side?

Coaches work enormous hours. How are they supposed to keep up?

They make an effort to. They act as if a clean program is a priority.

We’ve all been in restaurants where inattentive and uncaring parents allow their children to do whatever they want when they want.

That’s what Butch Davis did at North Carolina.

And that’s why the Tar Heels must pay.

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