Tudor: A sad but old story undermines Thorp

ctudor@newsobserver.comSeptember 18, 2012 

Perhaps the saddest aspect of Holden Thorp’s resignation as UNC’s chancellor is that his pending exit will not automatically put an end to the school’s litany of firings, retirements and awkward predicaments.

While Thorp plans to step down at the end of the school year, investigations will continue into the matter of academic fraud and other issues. Such is the breadth and seemingly viral resilience of a quagmire that began with a routine NCAA probe into possible illegal interactions between football players and professional sports agents.

It’s unfortunate that Thorp’s fate is only an example of how thoroughly a few corrupt players and employees can undermine a vast, proud, historically significant institution. Almost everything that has unraveled at Carolina can be traced to the selfish actions of no more than a dozen or so individuals.

There’s a case to be argued that Thorp’s remaining time as chancellor might best be served by visiting each college chief executive officer in the land with a warning about what can happen when an athletics program gets get out of hand. That’s a lesson chancellors shouldn’t have to be reminded about, but Thorp is proof to the contrary, maybe because it was too easy to assume the university was immune to scandal and rogue behavior.

Ultimately, it’s possible Thorp could have survived the football mess. But the academic transgressions and the relationship between vice chancellor Matt Kupec and the mother of former basketball star Tyler Hansbrough consumed almost everything that remained of Thorp’s credibility.

It no longer became a question of whether the chancellor’s heart was in the right place. Right or wrong, Thorp was Carolina’s last line of defense. And like the football defensive line in which Marvin Austin once played and John Blake once coached, Thorp was defeated not so much by an opponent but by poor judgment from a few people.

Sad story.

Old story.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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