Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The ongoing scandal at UNC is a bit more serious than people are making out. The primary three players that are getting the attention received approximately $30,000-plus in compensation from agents. This was in the form of trips, bling, and I would venture a guess cash. Former coaches and current NFL players are involved in the shenanigans. It's going to be really, really dirty when the hammer comes down on UNC and I'll tell you why.

Let's go back to UNC's recruiting class of 2007, when the newly hired Butch Davis inked super-recruits DT Marvin Austen (5-star), WR Dwight Jones (5-star), ATH Greg Little (4-star), and WR Rashad Mason (4-star). While it's really not unbelievable that Davis pulled in the in-state guys in Little and Jones, he went and plucked the #1 DT in the nation from the grips of USC, Miami, and Florida State. Davis' track record at Miami, where he somehow convinced the likes of Ray Lewis, Duane Starks, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Bubba Franks, Dan Morgan, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow II, Jonathan Vilma, Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, and Kelly Jennings to come and play for the U, was at the least suspect. When this class popped up on the radar, I can't say I wasn't suspicious that things weren't on the up and up.

Fast forward to July 2010 when Joe Schad of ESPN reports that the NCAA is beginning an "extensive inquiry" into the football program at UNC. Subsequent reports indicate that up to 13 players are involved, with Austen and Little being named as notable athletes involved. Pictures from Austen's Twitter account are found to have been taken in South Beach at a party and the "Agentgate" investigation sweeps southeastern schools. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

After nearly two months of investigation Yahoo! drops the bomb that UNC coaches are involved. Former UNC d-line coach John Blake was financially linked to prominent NFL agent Gary Wichard and his agency Pro Tect Management was responsible for financing an Austen trip to Westlake, CA for training purposes. Also connected to this particular trip were current NFL players Vontae Davis and Kentwan Balmer. It was alleged that Balmer paid for this trip, but as you can see, his name was not displayed on the receipt from the hotel with Austen's. Just for kicks, the hotel stays directly line up with UNC's spring break and also an itinerary recovered indicating a flight made by Austen to California at the same time.

UNC's AD Dick Baddour asserts, "We should've been doing something else. We should've acknowledged the level that these guys are and that there were going to be people coming at them. ... I wish we had done more. I'd like to relive that part." (ESPN, Heather Dinich) That's a pretty weak  statement in my opinion. It's like saying, "Well, I had a billion dollars and I thought that people would just leave it alone if I put it in the town square and they knew it was mine. Hindsight being 20-20, I should have probably put it in the bank or something. Sometimes decisions aren't so obvious." If that is the best you've got, obviously there are huge problems at the top. Isn't it, in some capacity, the responsibility for these guys to take care of their student athletes?

Butch Davis had to know about what was going on. Abuse of this magnitude doesn't pervade your program without someone at the top knowing about it. With all of the checks and balances in place, it's really unbelievable that Butch was completely unaware of the trouble brewing even if he didn't know about specific incidents. He coached in the NFL and knows how the system works, which in my opinion, makes him even more liable for what has transpired. Considering what is going on there though, I highly doubt that he gets any heat for it. It seems to me that the media and the AD have placed this squarely on the players and have shifted the spotlight away from their manager, in Davis. I realize that they made the mistakes, but if someone was handing out diamonds and trips like candy around the locker room, it might be hard to keep myself from being on the take.

The bottom line is that the whole program at UNC is handling this in the best way possible for THEM, and not who they're in business to serve- the student athletes. It's an utter shame.

No comments:

Post a Comment