Two websites report Tennessee's interest in UNC's Fedora

acarter@newsobserver.comDecember 5, 2012 

UNC11-SP-112412-RTW

UNC coach Larry Fedora waves to fans as he leaves the field following the Tar Heels' 45-38 victory over Maryland on Saturday November 24, 2012 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. Fedora lead the Tar Heels to a 8-4 record in his first season as coach.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

Amid speculation that North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora would interview for the head coaching vacancy at Tennessee, a source close to the UNC athletic department said Tuesday that Tennessee hadn’t requested permission to speak with Fedora.

Permission wouldn’t be necessary to interview a candidate, but it is seen as a courtesy in the coaching profession.

Volquest.com, a Rivals.com-affiliated website that covers Tennessee football, basketball and recruiting, reported Tuesday morning that Fedora would interview on Tuesday with Dave Hart, the Tennessee athletic director. ESPN.com also reported that Tennessee was expected to interview Fedora.

Kevin Best, a UNC football team spokesman, said Tuesday that Fedora’s policy is not to address speculation or reports related to his interest or involvement with various job openings. Fedora spent Tuesday in New York City, where he traveled to attend a National Football Foundation banquet. Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, also traveled to the same event, which serves as a kind of a national convention for coaches and administrators.

Fedora recently completed his first season at UNC, where he guided the Tar Heels to an 8-4 record. The school hired him last December and he signed a seven-year contract that runs through Jan. 15, 2019. Fedora receives an annual salary of $1.7 million. He received a one-time payment of $400,000 after UNC hired him.

UNC hired Fedora toward the end of the NCAA’s investigation into violations the UNC football program committed under former coach Butch Davis. The investigation, which focused on academic fraud and impermissible benefits involving agents, resulted in a one-year postseason ban, scholarship cuts and probation.

But even after the NCAA ruled on the case in March, new revelations about academic improprieties have emerged that have raised questions about whether the NCAA might further investigate. UNC in the spring released a report that identified 54 problematic classes over a range of four years in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, and a high percentage of athletes, including football players, enrolled in many of those courses.

Now the university is awaiting the results of an inquiry former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin is leading into the problems in the AFAM department. While there has been no indication that NCAA investigators will return to UNC, Fedora has expressed frustration with an inability to move forward amid problems that continue to surface.

Because UNC faced NCAA sanctions when the university hired Fedora, he received a seven-year contract – two years longer than what is the standard for a new coach. If Fedora were to leave for another job before Jan. 15, 2013, he’d owe UNC $2.35 million, according to his contract.

Fedora’s buyout shrinks to $1 million if were to leave between Jan. 16, 2014 and Jan. 15, 2015.

Carter: 919-829-8944

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