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UNC should punish its athletic director

Pete Fiutak explains that many questions remain in wake of firing.
Pete Fiutak explains that many questions remain in wake of firing.
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Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

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(Editor's note: After Butch Davis was fired as North Carolina's football coach Wednesday, FOXSports.com's Thayer Evans filed this analysis about the situation in Chapel Hill. And, less than 24 hours later, Evans' commentary came to life.)

Dick Baddour should be ashamed of himself.

Actually, the veteran North Carolina athletic director ought to feel embarrassed to still have a job after Tar Heels football coach Butch Davis was fired Wednesday — just nine days before the start of preseason practice, and just two days after Davis' appearance at ACC Media Days.

The move comes in the wake of North Carolina receiving its notice of allegations last month from the NCAA that cited nine major violations committed by its football program over the past several years. Davis’ firing was made “to restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program,” according to a statement from university chancellor Holden Thorp.

“I have lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution,” Thorp said. “Our academic integrity is paramount and we must work diligently to protect it. The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change.”

But if Thorp truly wanted to make a change, he would have also fired Baddour, who’s been North Carolina’s athletic director since 1997. It’s Baddour who’s badly mismanaged this scandal since it sprouted a year ago.

Baddour should have fired Davis no later than after last season and done his due diligence to hire a respected replacement prepared to lead the Tar Heels through the severe penalties likely to come after the school’s appearance before the NCAA infractions committee in October. Instead, he kept Davis and supported him publicly during the last year.

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Thorp has said Davis was unaware of the violations, including former associate head coach John Blake receiving $31,000 as a runner for a sports agent, tutors doing work for players, and seven players receiving more than $27,000 in impermissible benefits.

But not knowing is an unacceptable alibi in this "gotcha" age of college football. That same standard should also apply to Baddour.

Not only did the alleged transgressions occur under his watch, but he and his administration’s failure to monitor the football program also was instrumental in the fiasco.

According to the North Carolina notice of allegations, the university didn’t adequately monitor the use of its facilities and access to players by a former player who provided impermissible benefits to players. The notice said said it also didn’t check players’ Twitter accounts that showed violations.

Worst of all, the university didn't investigate impermissible benefits after a player reported the possibility. That’s right, it just ignored the epidemic.

But here’s what can’t be ignored: It’s just more than a month until North Carolina plays its first game of the season, and the team has no head coach. High school teams don’t even have that problem this time of year.

By not making a coaching change until now, university officials have essentially sacrificed the Tar Heels’ chances for success this season. That’s worse than any penalties the NCAA would ever hand down.

Blame Baddour, who’s somehow survived his terrible hires of Carl Torbush and John Bunting in football as well as Bill Guthridge and Matt Doherty in basketball. If he had done his job right this time, maybe North Carolina football wouldn’t be the laughingstock of college football right now.

It’s time for Baddour to accept his role in this debacle. Because if he truly wanted “to help the entire University community move forward,” as he said in a statement Wednesday, he’d do one thing: resign.

Tagged: North Carolina

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