The Don (Curtis) of UNC Football

This was originally written over Father’s Day weekend but due to everything that came out last Monday and Tuesday this would have been lost in all the noise. I want to say thanks to the other SFN writers who helped in creating this piece.

Last Thursday (6/16) and Friday (6/17) there was a huge deluge of data related to the ongoing scandals over at The Flagship.  It has been tough to make sense of a lot of it.   But we offer a big thanks to WRAL.com for making available this searchable database of emails that were released last Fall (as best as we can tell). In that database you can find this gem of an email entitled “Great Job Last Night” sent from Don Curtis to Dick Baddour and Holden Thorp:

Sent:Friday, August 27, 2010 10:00 AM
To:Baddour, Richard A; Thorp, Hoiden
Don Curtis [dcurtis@curtismedia.com]

I thought both of you did a great job last night….Here are a few thoughts t hope are helpful.

1) I thought Dick begin to really gain some ground when he touched briefly on how some compliance issues are governed. I would seriously consider a full description of what we do in the area of compliance,…how the athletes are briefed….how the academic support system is designed….how the coaches are briefed…The NCAA’s role etc. I bewlieve Alumni in general would be impressed with how much effort is exerted here. I also think they could see how some things are impossible to totally control and supervise. We need to fully establish that we are not reacting because of the investigation of these issues, but had a program in place.
2) I Think that the timeline of when Butch hired the Tutor for his personal work…and when she was hired by the University is confusing. If, for example, Butch hires her, she does a good job for him…and then a job comes open at UNC, it would logical for htm to hire here. I know that there are some highly involved HR issues involved. But last night may have raised more questions that it answered.
3) I think that it is very important, if this is true, to continue to point out that WE discovered the latest issues, and not the NCAA. And again, within the confines of what can be said, that the NCAA is not yet investigating UNC..but rather the conduce of some of our students.
4) I don’t think that most people are aware of the UNC Honor System being involved here….almost all of the “fans” are asking what the NCAA is going to levy 1) to the school, and 2) to the players. I don’t think the average fan has any idea that the student honor system will likely have a very big say in what is done.
5) Holden’s comments were perfect I thought Butch came out well too.
Unfortunately, more peopie will read and hear news reports of what was said, rather than having it heard themselves. This is why I believe we need to continue to release as much background information about our long standing policies and practices as possible.

I am sure you know what the average football fan wants to know: 1) Who’s going play. 2) What are the possible penalties to what players 3) Where the Coaches involved, and 4) How does this affect our long range future. All of which are not likely possible to answer to anyone’s satisfaction without creating a bigger mess. I heard from two UNC Fans…not alumni…their comments: “We’ll get throught this….” Optimistic rather than condeming. Interesting I thought
Just some thoughts.

And Now an Offer:
Perhaps a one hour program on the our discussing the whole compliance problem facing all schools….Perhaps involving Yow From State, Dick From Carolina, and maybe a third. Such a program would focus on the problem of compliance with the current situation used as just an example of how difficult it is to manage. We have 72 stations acorss the state. Program couid be taped, rather than live. Would not involved listener call ins. Host of Pro ram would not be investigating but rather conducting a interview on compliance issues and programs. stations reach 1.2 Million North Carolinans….this is more than the combined circulation of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro Dailies, As hot a issue as this is, (think we could get clearance on all of the top News/Talk, and sports talk stations as well

This email was then forwarded by Holden Thorp to Nancy Davis, UNC’s Associate Vice Chancellor of University Relations.  Before we look at this ridiculous email in detail, I am sure many of you are asking …

Who is Don Curtis?


Well maybe you’ve heard of a company called the Curtis Media Group. It owns 25 radio stations and provides the North Carolina News Network to 72 stations across the state. The company also has partnerships with Innerbanks Media and Foothills Radio Group, which operate seven additional North Carolina radio stations.

A little more about Curtis Media Group’s ownership of local sports talk stations:

Under the plan, Capitol Broadcasting Co. will acquire two sports radio stations now owned by Curtis Media: 620 AM The Bull and 1550 AM. It will also purchase the brand and intellectual property of what is now 850 AM The Buzz. David Glenn, now of 850 AM, will move to Capitol station 99.9 The Fan. The Buzz’s Adam Gold and Joe Ovies will move to the newly renamed 620 AM The Buzz.

In addition, Capitol will acquire 1550 AM from Curtis and change the station to a Spanish-language sports station, ESPN Deportes.

Curtis Media would get the N.C. News Network from Capitol Broadcasting, along with a satellite distribution network that Capitol owns; it is used to broadcast sports for Duke, N.C. State and East Carolina universities and the Carolina Hurricanes. Curtis Media also will buy the tower and the frequency of 850 AM from McClatchey Broadcasting, and most likely change it from a sports station to a music format.

By selling the various assets of 850 AM The Buzz, McClatchey will get out of the broadcast business.

What else do we know about Don? Looking at his bio we find this little nugget:

Active in the University of North Carolina, his alma mater, he currently serves on the Board of the UNC Alumni Association, The National Development Council, the UNC School of Journalism Board of Visitors, the UNC Journalism Foundation Board of Directors, and has previously also served on the UNC Board of Visitors and the Education Foundation Board. In 2005, he received the William R. Davie Award for his service to the University.

And:

When Curtis finished high school in Bessemer City, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1965, and studied in the School for Journalism and Mass Communication. Five years later and three credits short from earning a bachelor’s degree, Curtis left UNC, returned to Bessemer City, and resumed his communications career.

Curtis experienced a widely successful career in communications without earning a college degree. However, in 2002 the University of North Carolina held a special ceremony to honor Curtis. After passing an oral examination, Curtis earned his bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Additionally, he gave the Fall 2010 commencement address at the UNC School of Journalism (you can watch it here on youtube.com).  Curtis has served on the UNC board of Trustees since being elected in 2009.  His term will expire in 2013.

OK, back to the email:

Curtis’ email makes seven main points.  He numbers five of them, adds an observation, and then he makes an “offer.”  Let’s take these one by one, with my comments after each.

1) I thought Dick begin to really gain some ground when he touched briefly on how some compliance issues are governed. I would seriously consider a full description of what we do in the area of compliance,…how the athletes are briefed….how the academic support system is designed….how the coaches are briefed…The NCAA’s role etc. I bewlieve Alumni in general would be impressed with how much effort is exerted here. I also think they could see how some things are impossible to totally control and supervise. We need to fully establish that we are not reacting because of the investigation of these issues, but had a program in place.

Don obviously knows UNC Alumni very well!  I agree that UNC alumni and fans have been “impressed” by the university’s efforts (to prevent records from being seen by the public) and they have easily believed the notion that Butch can’t possibly be expected to “control and supervise” his Associate Head Coach and a handful of high-profile players. As for convincing the public that UNC was “not reacting” and had “a program in place,” that would take some serious spinning, even for them.

2) I Think that the timeline of when Butch hired the Tutor for his personal work…and when she was hired by the University is confusing. If, for example, Butch hires her, she does a good job for him…and then a job comes open at UNC, it would logical for htm to hire here. I know that there are some highly involved HR issues involved. But last night may have raised more questions that it answered.

“I Think that the timeline of when Butch hired the Tutor for his personal work…and when she was hired by the University is confusing.”  You aren’t kidding Don! “[C]onfusing” is an understatement!  It is so confusing that you have the facts totally wrong.  Information that came out last Fall indicated that the tutor was fired by UNC, and subsequently worked Butch.  No wonder you are confused.

3) I think that it is very important, if this is true, to continue to point out that WE discovered the latest issues, and not the NCAA. And again, within the confines of what can be said, that the NCAA is not yet investigating UNC..but rather the conduce of some of our students.

This is Gold Jerry. Gold!!!

I don’t know what the “latest issues” are that he is talking about, but can someone point out when, during this entire affair, UNC discovered ANYTHING before it was uncovered by the NCAA and/or in the new media first? 

4) I don’t think that most people are aware of the UNC Honor System being involved here….almost all of the “fans” are asking what the NCAA is going to levy 1) to the school, and 2) to the players. I don’t think the average fan has any idea that the student honor system will likely have a very big say in what is done.

Take a look back at how the Burney situation was handled for an example of how much “say” the “UNC Honor System” has had.

5) Holden’s comments were perfect I thought Butch came out well too. Unfortunately, more peopie will read and hear news reports of what was said, rather than having it heard themselves. This is why I believe we need to continue to release as much background information about our long standing policies and practices as possible.

What exactly are UNC’s “long standing policies and practices”? We are all ears.

I am sure you know what the average football fan wants to know: 1) Who’s going play. 2) What are the possible penalties to what players 3) Where the Coaches involved, and 4) How does this affect our long range future. All of which are not likely possible to answer to anyone’s satisfaction without creating a bigger mess. I heard from two UNC Fans…not alumni…their comments: “We’ll get throught this….” Optimistic rather than condeming. Interesting I thought
Just some thoughts.

Amazing that Don ran across two UNC fans who were not graduates!  What are the chances?!

And Now an Offer:
Perhaps a one hour program on the our discussing the whole compliance problem facing all schools….Perhaps involving Yow From State, Dick From Carolina, and maybe a third. Such a program would focus on the problem of compliance with the current situation used as just an example of how difficult it is to manage. We have 72 stations acorss the state. Program couid be taped, rather than live. Would not involved listener call ins. Host of Pro ram would not be investigating but rather conducting a interview on compliance issues and programs. stations reach 1.2 Million North Carolinans….this is more than the combined circulation of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro Dailies, As hot a issue as this is, (think we could get clearance on all of the top News/Talk, and sports talk stations as well

Don wants to use his stations, all 72 of them, to push the narrative that all schools face problems with complying with NCAA rules. He also wants to drag NC State into the middle of their mess.  He thinks he can get this program onto “all News/Talk, and sports talk stations.” The program would focus on compliance issues and not investigating.  Wow, that’s surprising!  A UNC-CH BOT member attempting to use his company to advance UNC’s agenda and at the same time harm NC State.  Unheard of! 

I think I speak for a large segement of NC State graduates who would decline to be pulled into the UNC football sleaze pit in order to mitigate their damage.  However, I will pass along my two cents in case Don is interested.  The new media’s information flow has accumulated a critical mass of outlets such that UNC is no longer able to keep them all plugged.  Also, the corruption machine became too large and complacent to remain agile.  That brazen, above-the-law shit works great until it stops working.  Just ask Al Capone or Pablo Escobar. 

None of that is our problem.

About 1.21 Jigawatts

Class of '98, Mechanical Engineer, State fan since arriving on campus and it's been a painful ride ever since. I live by the Law of NC State Fandom, "For every Elation there is an equal and opposite Frustration."

Media UNC Scandal

41 Responses to The Don (Curtis) of UNC Football

  1. cWOhLFrPAiCKs 06/30/2011 at 8:04 AM #

    Very well said, Jigawatts! Thanks for the great breakdown!

  2. HaxPack 06/30/2011 at 8:07 AM #

    Oh my. This is crazy. Great work again SFN. I really hope this gets noticed by national news media, or maybe they will just look away like Curtis Media.

  3. TOBtime 06/30/2011 at 8:08 AM #

    5 years in the “school of journalism” (snort, chuckle, laugh) with no degree. Now THERE is a hole with a reason to be elite!

    However, it seems he learned his lessons well at the hole. Dodge, deny, smooth over and drag in others. There aren’t enough usable words (on here) to describe the disgust for him and those like him.

  4. Clarksa 06/30/2011 at 8:16 AM #

    Honestly, I would hope that if we had an someone in his position that they would do the same thing. He’s just trying to run PR for the cheaters and use everything at his disposal. After all, my parents always told me its not what you know, but who you know. Imagine how NC State could have controlled the media during the V scandal if we had access to 72 radio stations.

  5. for2n8son 06/30/2011 at 8:27 AM #

    “Amazing that Don ran across two UNC fans who were not graduates! What are the chances?!”

    Priceless! I laughed until my sides hurt. God bless WalMart, huh!

  6. pantherpack98 06/30/2011 at 8:29 AM #

    What an awesome piece. They still don’t get that they only had a handful of players to really keep an eye on as Jigawatts stated yet they still feel as if it’s the whole team. I pray they burn with sanctions…the elitism and entitlement they exude makes me want to…well, I better not say.

  7. Six Pack 06/30/2011 at 8:33 AM #

    If this doesn’t just pull the curtain back and show the true media bias that exists in NC for the Holes, I don’t know what does. This is just blatant and in-your-face bull fecal matter!

  8. dogpack 06/30/2011 at 8:35 AM #

    Let’s just say I know this guy pretty well. Although he despises NC State and regularly says downright nasty things about our school, he used to (and still might) attend our football games incognito just to get ideas on how to “recreate the atmosphere” 40 miles west.

  9. lawful 06/30/2011 at 8:59 AM #

    Too late, Don. The cat is out of the bag…love the Banyan reference.

  10. anonimus 06/30/2011 at 9:03 AM #

    For 20 years I’ve been called “paranoid state fan” when I point to the heavy influence UNC alum have in traditional media. I will gladly point to this article as exhibit A in my defense.

    Awesome work! Thank you.

  11. Branimated 06/30/2011 at 9:07 AM #

    As a former employee of Curtis Media Group, I can say this doesn’t surprise me. I got in trouble a couple of times for playing our fight song over the intercom in throughout the entire building. Glad I don’t work for that place anymore.

  12. logarithm 06/30/2011 at 9:07 AM #

    Good. One more thing to point to and yell “SEE!? I TOLD you about the media bias!”

    I wonder how we get in touch with Debbie and ask her to not let us get sucked into their problems. How in the hell can a show about rules compliance be worth a damn when it’s spearheaded by a team that’s found new and exciting ways to break the rules over a span of years?

  13. TruthBKnown Returns 06/30/2011 at 9:07 AM #

    I’m glad you guys made a full article/blog about this. I saw this email somewhere back when that deluge of information was coming out. You’re right, this would have been lost in the shuffle. It deserves time of its own in the spotlight.

    If nothing else, this is yet another smoking gun. This is a smoking gun that proves media bias in favor of the baby blues. It’s sickening and disgusting. Makes me want to boycott them. If anyone has any ideas of how to do that, please post them. Is there a list of stations and websites we can stay away from to stick it to them? I’d be glad to do it.

  14. Hungwolf 06/30/2011 at 9:16 AM #

    With such a media giant willing to cover and spin the UNC mess no wonder UNC-CHeat admins and coaches think they can get away with murder. Charlotte Observer recently ran a piece of Ky basketball and its coaches NCAA problems, amazing the timing of this piece. Then today Charlotte Observer has article that Marvin’s Austin friend says NCAA and UNC-CHeat are liars, he provided no benefits to anyone and he is being used as a scapegoat, while in a separate article Gregg Little admits he did wrong and lied to NCAA. There is no honor, morals or truth in the local media. One can only wonder why Tudor, who said Butch should go last October, changed his tune. Was he scared for his job or scared he would be black balled by the UNC faithful?

    Things stink on the Hill in a big way! And now the spin machine pushing the agenda “that we did wrong, but it wasn’t our fault, and we all need to move on.” Woody Durham and Friday carrying this flag!
    They have no shame!

  15. TruthBKnown Returns 06/30/2011 at 9:17 AM #

    Here are some that could be boycotted…

    620 AM
    1550 AM
    850 AM
    99.9 FM

  16. TruthBKnown Returns 06/30/2011 at 9:23 AM #

    Anyone (especially someone in a powerful position like this clown is) who uses their position to cover for a dirty corrupt program like UNX’s athletics program, is just as dirty and corrupt as they are.

    He could use his power to push for the TRUTH to come out (however ugly the truth actually is), but instead, he choose to help spin their way out of trouble.

    And there’s another aspect of how this influences people… if you’re an employee of this clown’s, and you want to push for deeper investigations, or make the case that Butch and/or Baddour need to go, how could you go about doing that? First of all, your stuff would never hit the airways. But if it did, you’d likely end up out of a job.

    This is smelly, dirty corruption at the highest levels. People ask why SFN pursues the Carolina scandal like they do. It’s because if they don’t, who will? With this “Don” in power, who will? He severely limits the options for getting the word out, or actually doing some investigative reporting done.

    This whole thing is sickening. But how do you get the word out, if not for the internet, when the media is under tight control by someone as dirty and corrupt as this???

  17. dogpack 06/30/2011 at 9:31 AM #

    Don’t forget 94.7 QDR and 96rock.

  18. PackerInRussia 06/30/2011 at 9:33 AM #

    I kind of like the idea of having Baddour and (vs?) Yow. Except, instead of them, the show should be Butch and TOB. I think there could be some priceless moments with Butch trying to explain the difficulties of keeping kids in line and O’Brien dryly countering. Heck, O’Brien’s been keeping Butch’s kids in line for four years straight now.

  19. TheCOWDOG 06/30/2011 at 9:45 AM #

    Jigs, good pull on one of the more entertaining divulgences that have come to light.

    When I first saw this several weeks ago, I couldn’t help but focus in on the proposed “Coffee Clatch” meeting of the minds to elucidate the difficulties facing universities on compliance issues.

    The fact that State was mentioned immediately caused me to ponder what just may have transpired if Fowler, not Yow, had been the AD suggested for participation.

  20. tractor57 06/30/2011 at 9:46 AM #

    I’ll grant him the idea that compliance can be a difficult thing however looking at UNX vs State in regards to compliance efforts to show how difficult it is to actually comply?

    Maybe to show UNX a better way toward compliance. I’m sure State isn’t perfect but it is a darn sight closer than what has become public with the UNX mess.

    I would enjoy a true non-partisan discussion of the issues with several of the major UNC system schools involved but we all know his plan is a way to pile crap on everyone else to the benefit of UNX.

  21. StateFans 06/30/2011 at 9:59 AM #

    LINK TO an item that is HIGHLY RELATED.

    Would love to know the answer

  22. golf76 06/30/2011 at 10:02 AM #

    TBRK – Boycott won’t work. But a little sunshine on the entire process will embarrass the news departments of these stations and no doubt Mr. Curtis as well. One way to highlight the issue would be to email this analysis to each of the stations with CC’s to every other media outlet in NC plus ESPN, SI, etc. Could really cause some squirming and who knows some un-UNC national media might pick it up.

  23. packhammer 06/30/2011 at 10:06 AM #

    Branimated, you are my hero. That is just too rich.

  24. sequoyah 06/30/2011 at 10:11 AM #

    According to the FCC, every radion station license will expire between 2011 & 2014…applications must be filed for renewal. If you are a regular listener, or other ‘party in interest’, and you believe that Curtis is abusing his broadcast powers, you may file a Petition to Deny.

    “A petition must be supported by an affidavit of a person or persons with personal knowledge of the allegations of fact contained in the petition.” Luckily, Mr. Curtis has already written that part for you.

    http://www.fcc.gov/guides/license-renewal-applications-radio-broadcast-stations#P2D

  25. packhammer 06/30/2011 at 10:53 AM #

    By the way, here’s an idea. What about a one hour program on how NCAA compliance is really not that difficult. First, don’t hire people into top positions that you know have problems following the rules. Second, tell your players not to accept payments and gifts from NFL agents. Hey, maybe interview a couple of people like Debbie Yow for the program?

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