Monday, October 11, 2010

Davis resolves to 'restore confidence' of UNC in its football program

North Carolina coach Butch Davis, with his program rocked Monday by the announcements that three stars will not return to the team, vowed to do what he can to “restore confidence of people who love this university.”

“I give you my word and I promise you we are going to work every day to restore that confidence,” Davis said Monday in Chapel Hill at the Kenan Football Center.

Earlier Monday, the school announced that defensive tackle Marvin Austin had been dismissed from the program and receiver Greg Little and defensive end Robert Quinn had been ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA. See full posts below on UNC's announcements.

Austin, a senior, and Quinn, a junior, are considered top NFL prospects, and Little has NFL potential as well. The future of five players - running back Ryan Houston, cornerback Charles Brown, defensive linemen Michael McAdoo and Linwall Euwell and safety Brian Gupton - remain unresolved.

UNC athletics director Dick Baddour spoke to the media Monday, opening the news conference before Davis, and said he was particularly disappointed that the three lied to investigators about the benefits they received.

Baddour also said the players lied in a statement sent out by the school, an unusually harsh move for an athletics director who is usually reserved and careful in his comments.

“It’s particularly  disappointing because at the very beginning of this process, Coach Davis, myself and all the compliance people were in front of our student-athletes driving home the message of how important it is that you be honest, that you be forthright, that you give us an opportunity to help you, and the way you do that is by being honest in your descriptions,” Baddour said.

Davis said the three players will not practice with team or be allowed to work out on UNC facilities. But Baddour said the players would be allowed to retain their scholarships.

Both said the program should have been more alert to the possibility that people would try to influence the players, especially as Carolina began to attract elite players.

“We need to do a better job," Baddour said. "Most of what was going on here in terms of the trips was happening when school was not in session. Coach [Davis] already has a program in place to deal with that.

“I agree that given the magnitude of the players that should have been on our radar more. We know that now. We do want to treat student-athletes as much like students as you possibly can. We should have acknowledged the level these guys are and people are going to be coming at them.

“I wish we had done more. I’d like to re-live that part.”

Davis, too, said the UNC football program will begin to educate players about what constitutes “extra benefits” earlier in their career. He also said the program was more closely monitoring what the players do away from campus, and said UNC is asking agents and financial advisors to set up meeting with the administration and to hold those meetings at the football offices.

“I’ve got to do a much better job of being on top of these things,” Davis said. “We’ve already put some things in place to hopefully help us from having this happen again in the future.”

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