by Dick Baddour, Director of Athletics
Dear Tar Heels:
I have been privileged to be associated with the University of North Carolina for nearly 50 years. The institution and its values are in my heart and soul. For the past three months we have been working to resolve a number of issues that began when the NCAA contacted us about possible impermissible benefits associated with agents.
One of the questions we hear most frequently is: `Why is this process taking so long?' Another is: `Why can't you provide us with more details?' Two primary factors affect how much information we can release. First, the NCAA directed us not to provide details so that we would not compromise or hinder the investigation. Second, we must comply with federal law on releasing information about student-athletes based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
We have cooperated with the NCAA completely. Where we've made mistakes, we will correct them and install whatever measures necessary so that they do not occur again. We will come out of this review as a better program.
The outcome for each student-athlete may be different. I have cautioned people not to assume which aspect of the investigation a student-athlete may be involved. Some may be cleared to play immediately, some may return after a few games, and some might face longer periods of ineligibility. There are different types and degrees of misconduct and different processes, both within the University and the NCAA, which determine that length of time.
The investigation into alleged academic misconduct has been a detailed and lengthy process and, of course, has taken place near the start of the season and now past the first two games. That part of the investigation has included the chancellor, vice chancellor for student affairs, legal counsel, faculty, compliance and other staff.
Two principles guide us in both aspects of the investigation. One - we are going to protect the integrity of the University of North Carolina and place that integrity at the forefront of every decision we make; and two- we will be fair to our student-athletes.
In some eligibility matters, a school may report a set of facts and the NCAA issues a decision and set of penalties. In other instances, the NCAA determines it does not have enough information at the time and returns the matter of whether to play or not play a student-athlete back to the institution. That does not eliminate potential liability for the school with the NCAA. It is a scenario we faced prior to the LSU game and continue to deal with.
If a student is found to have academic misconduct for actions that occurred in a previous semester, it is possible the penalty would be to receive a failing grade in that course or even be suspended. For a student-athlete, that could mean they would not be eligible to compete this semester and the University might have to vacate any wins in which an ineligible player competed. Therefore, Chancellor Thorp, Coach Davis and I agree we can't play anyone who might cause our football program to forfeit any victories.
Some of the student-athletes whom we have interviewed have not had any academic misconduct, while others have different types and degrees of responsibility. The NCAA and UNC are looking at each individual's situation on a case-by-case basis. We are working towards a resolution not a moment longer than is necessary.
Chancellor Thorp has been part of the team working to resolve the issues. His leadership and guidance have been invaluable. The chancellor believes in a first-class, successful athletics program, but sends a strong message that the University's integrity comes first and doing what is best for the institution is paramount. He also notes that the young men we are looking at are members of the student body and, although some of them have made mistakes, they are our students and we need to support them.
I want to thank the young men on the football team for the way they have played and our wonderful fans who gave us great support before, during and after both games. The coaches have prepared the team to play despite unprecedented distractions and the student-athletes responded with strong performances in a pair of closely contested games.
Coach Davis is 100 percent committed to the University's values and integrity. He has cooperated completely and instructed every member of the team to do the same. When we hired Coach Davis, I believed he was the right man to build a program we could be proud of on and off the field. I maintain that belief today. We will work together to restore the University community's faith in our program.
Carolina students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans are proud of the University's record on compliance, a reputation that has been earned and established over many decades. The problems we are now encountering certainly do not change our beliefs that winning within the rules is the Carolina Way. What we face today only re-focuses our efforts to live up to that legacy. It's a challenge we must accept and embrace with every ounce of competitive spirit we have. It's not just the Carolina Way, it's the only way.