Butch Davis to FIU hits major snag

A contract squabble with the University of North Carolina is keeping Butch Davis from becoming the next head coach at Florida International University, a source told FOXSports.com on Thursday night.

The dispute centers on almost $1.8 million that Davis is owed from the settlement he signed upon his dismissal as UNC’s head coach in July 2011. The source said that UNC doesn’t want to pay the money if Davis accepts another coaching position, which is a stumbling block that also complicated his hiring earlier this year by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

FIU is set to sign Davis to a multiyear contract averaging roughly $500,000 a season, the source said.

The Tampa Bay Times has reported that Davis is due annual payments of $590,000 from UNC every Jan. 15 between 2013 and 2015 as part of the severance deal. Davis was fired after a slew of NCAA infractions were committed during his four seasons (2007 to 2010) with the Tar Heels.

The Miami Herald reported earlier this week that FIU would be hiring Davis as head coach. That drew a rebuke from FIU athletic director Pete Garcia, who claimed the report was “totally false.” Garcia and Davis have a prior working relationship from when the latter was head coach for the University of Miami and Cleveland Browns.

Garcia fired head coach Mario Cristobal earlier this month after the Golden Panthers finished with a 3-9 mark. Despite the poor record, there was no public or media outcry pushing for Cristobal’s dismissal because of the belief that 2012 was a rebuilding year after he led FIU to two consecutive winning seasons and bowl bids.

Known as an outstanding recruiter, Davis helped bring the cross-town Hurricanes back to national prominence after his hiring in 1995, culminating with a Sugar Bowl win and No. 2 national ranking following the 2000-01 season. After that season, he became Cleveland’s head coach and compiled a 24-35 record in a four-season span before his forced resignation. But his 2002 Browns remain the franchise’s only playoff team since resuming play in 1999.

Two of Davis’ assistant coaches from his University of Miami days — Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis) and Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay) — are now NFL head coaches. FOXSports.com first reported last February that Davis would be joining Schiano’s staff with the Buccaneers. Schiano hired the 61-year-old Davis under the title “Special Assistant to the Head Coach” so he wouldn’t forfeit money owed by North Carolina by accepting a traditional staff position.