UNC football scandal: Under New Management

Update, 2 p.m.: UNC Athletics Director Dick Baddour has announced that he will resign when his contract expires in June 2012.

When an event such as UNC football coach Butch Davis’ firing happens as unexpectedly as it did, questions are sure to be asked and speculation will run rampant. Examples: Why now? Why not last season? Why right before the new football season starts? Why now after standing by Davis with each and every new damning allegation? Is it because the upcoming release of Davis’ previously withheld cellphone calls revealed a sin too far? Is it that, by firing him now “without cause” before cause is made manifest by the NCAA later this year, Davis will receive several million dollars in a buyout (which could now be essentially “hush” money)? Is it something worse?

The timing seems rather strange because there was nothing new (that we know about, at least) about the scandal that has not only involved more typical sports corruption, but also blatant, systemic academic fraud. But there was a change at UNC that, I believe, not only explains the firing but also validates one particular man’s insight into the scandal. The man is blogger BobLee Swagger, a friend, an independent conservative, and a sincere (and, incidentally, well-connected) UNC sports fan who’s also maintained perspective about college athletics.

BobLee has long held that UNC’s disturbing, see-no-evil approach to the scandal owed to a deliberate approach emanating from the Board of Trustees under the leadership of BOT chairman Bob Winston (the link is from a September 2010 column). BobLee calls Winston and fellow trustees Paul Fulton and John Ellison “the real authors of this trainwreck” for not doing due diligence before hiring Davis and for following that mistake with what he calls “the Silly Sgt. Schultz Scam” (after the character from the TV show “Hogan’s Heroes,” famous for saying “I know nothing; I see nothing”).

The seemingly odd timing of Davis’ firing appears to have validated BobLee’s insight. You see, one thing has changed at UNC: the leadership of the BOT. So BobLee answers the question today (in his own fashion, of course):

Q: Why now?

A: Simple. Yesterday was the first meeting of the NEW UNC BOT without BOTBob Winston as chair.

BOTBob’s tenure on the BOT expired after the last meeting. Wade Hargrove is the new BOT Chair effective yesterday. As reported here for the past 11 months …. BOTBob was one of the Infamous BOT3 that hired Butch and served as his human shield when the Fit Hit The Shan a year ago. ….. For Chancellor Thorp to publicly go against his board, chaired by Winston, was virtual suicide.

The BOT3 would have/did block all earlier moves to oust Davis. Factoring that into the equation explains the rest of the bumbling broadbrush cover-up including the tutor crap. The BOT3 stonewalled “the Truth”. The Sgt Schultz Gambit had to keep expanding to cover anything that percolated to the top of the septic field.

The good news here is that it possibly signals that the adults at UNC are waking up. I have been asking where they are. Granted, the professor of the infamous Swahili class is still unavailable despite his return to the States. Nevertheless, I’d rather give tardy marks to the responsible adulthood at UNC than an ugly No Credit for skipping out altogether.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...