UNC not planning self-imposed sanctions for now
North Carolina doesn't plan any self-imposed sanctions on the school's football program amid an NCAA investigation into agent-related benefits and academic misconduct, Chancellor Holden Thorp said Thursday.
''We don't have plans to take any more actions than the ones we've taken,'' Thorp said. ''Obviously something could happen. Some information could come out or the NCAA could send us information that we don't know about that could change that. But we've been working on this for four months ... and we don't think there's a lot of new information that's going to come out, so we feel really good about where we are.''
Thorp spoke shortly after he, athletic director Dick Baddour and coach Butch Davis updated the school's board of trustees on the investigation. Thorp again publicly supported Baddour and Davis, saying that there is no information connecting Davis to potential violations that sidelined some players for a few games, caused others to be declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA and led to the departure of an assistant coach with close ties to an agent.
Baddour said the fourth-year coach handled ''the most difficult times in a dignified and professional manner.''
''I believe you were the right fit when we hired you and I continue to believe that,'' Baddour told Davis during the meeting. ''In fact, I believe it even more strongly now.''
The presentation seemed designed to close UNC's fact-finding part the investigation, which was initially focused on two players possibly receiving improper benefits from agents, but ultimately ensnared a dozen others.
However, now UNC awaits the final NCAA ruling.
Baddour said the school hasn't received a letter outlining violations from the NCAA, which would signify a shift to a potential penalty phase.
Thorp has said the process could take a year to complete, though Baddour didn't specify a time when asked by trustee Wade Hargrove.
''I don't know what to tell you on that,'' Baddour said. ''That is out of our control.''
Earlier this week, the NCAA issued rulings on the last two players whose status was in question, and Thorp said both the NCAA and school were largely finished with their investigations.
In all, 14 players missed at least one game. Seven will miss the entire season, with three declared permanently ineligible and a fourth kicked off the team. Another player played the first four games before being held out and was declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA earlier this week.
Five players have returned to game action after being held out by the school or suspended by the NCAA, while a sixth was cleared to return but hopes to redshirt.
In addition, the NCAA also scrutinized the longtime friendship of former assistant coach John Blake - who resigned in September - and California-based agent Gary Wichard. Attorneys for both men have said Wichard loaned money to Blake, though they have denied there was any agreement for Blake to steer players to Wichard when they went to the NFL.
While the NCAA issued rulings on improper-benefits cases, some of the academics issues were handled by the school's student judicial system.
Davis, speaking to the board for the first time since the investigation began, said he was working to make sure the program avoided such trouble in the future.
''I want to make perfectly clear to everyone that I am embarrassed and saddened and disappointed about the negative light that things in the football program have shed on the University of North Carolina,'' Davis said. ''As the head football coach, I take complete and full responsibility for everything that happens in that football program. It is certainly nothing that we are proud of. We're embarrassed by it.''
The investigation led to a separate probe launched by the North Carolina Secretary of State's office focused on whether the state's sports agent laws were broken. Thorp told trustees that both the NCAA and Secretary of State's office had interviewed Davis in their investigations.
Baddour told the board that numerous changes are in place or being planned, from requiring current and future employees to disclose associations with agents to reviewing the policies of the academic support program to include more faculty oversight.