“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.