Lawyer: Tutor called Davis for advice as NCAA focus shifted to academics

acurliss@newsobserver.comSeptember 21, 2012 

Former UNC football coach Butch Davis

ROBERT WILLETT — 2010 News &; Observer file photo

UNC-Chapel Hill football coach Butch Davis spoke by phone with a key person – the tutor who was under increasing scrutiny – as an NCAA investigation focused on possible academic fraud in the summer of 2010, new phone records show.

Jennifer Wiley, who had tutored several football players and also worked for the Davis family as a tutor to their son, made the call to Davis on Aug. 23, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.

They spoke for nine minutes, according to the records, which were released by a Davis family lawyer Friday after a two-year public records dispute over whether the records are public.

A judge in August ruled in favor of The News & Observer and a media coalition, deciding that the records reflecting university business conducted by Davis on a personal cell phone are public records under state law. The 136 pages cover March 2009 through November 2010.

Davis’ lawyer, Jon Sasser, said in an interview that the phone call that August day was made by Wiley to Davis “as a father figure.”

A UNC administrator, John Blanchard, had just contacted Wiley and sought to interview her, according to Sasser, and she wanted to talk with Davis about it.

“She thought he would know what was going on,” Sasser said. “Who this was, what it was about, and whether she should bring her father.”

Sasser said Davis did not know much at that moment, and directed her to get back in touch with Blanchard to have her questions answered, telling her, “I don’t have any answers for you.”

Wiley never met with UNC or NCAA officials, and her “failure to cooperate” contributed to sanctions brought against the university that include a loss of scholarships and a ban on post-season play this year. Davis was fired last year.

Davis did not direct Wiley to meet or talk with university officials, Sasser acknowledged Friday in an interview.

“He did not tell her not to go and he didn’t tell her to go,” Sasser said.

He said that when the call ended, Davis was under the impression that she would.

“He assumed that she was going,” Sasser said. “He hung up with the impression that she would go.”

Asked why Davis didn’t follow up and encourage Wiley to speak, Sasser said that Davis was “gagged” by the ongoing investigations from talking with others about it in any depth.

It was the last phone call between the two, Sasser said.

The phone records show several other contacts before then. Sasser said those were related to Wiley’s work as a tutor for Davis’ son. Many phone numbers relating to personal calls were redacted from the phone records, as allowed by the judge who decided the issue. But Sasser said the coach did not redact those contacts with Wiley, which he considers to be personal, because he knows there would be interest in any contacts with her.

The phone records show that when the last call with Wiley ended, Davis then phoned his wife and they connected for 4 minutes. He didn’t make another call on the phone until after noon, according to the records.

Wiley would soon hire Joseph Cheshire, one of the state’s most prominent defense attorneys.

The NCAA report that detailed infractions by UNC-Chapel Hill says that, “From the time the investigation began, the former tutor refused to cooperate with the institution and enforcement staff.”

The infractions report says the tutor and her lawyer did not respond to multiple attempts to schedule interviews made between November 2010 and mid-January 2011.

The NCAA report says that it was emails uncovered in August 2010 that led to the focus on the tutor, who is not identified by name in the report. The emails showed that she may have provided tutoring for players at no charge, in violation of NCAA rules. Players then acknowledged in interviews that they received free help at the tutor’s apartment or at their off-campus homes.

The tutor had also paid for players’ parking tickets and paid airfare for football players, the NCAA said.

Wiley has refused interview requests.

Curliss: 919-829-4840

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