Independent Investigation Into UNC Athletics Needed

It is long past time for an impartial and independent investigation into alleged wrongdoings into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s football and athletics programs.  Anyone who holds a degree from a member institution of the University of North Carolina system or is affiliated with the Atlantic Coast Conference deserves as much. The people of the great state of North Carolina deserve as much.

While many UNC boosters and employees want an investigation of the school’s football program to end quickly, the inquiry should not have a set deadline, especially to meet on-the-field or sports-marketing needs. Any rushed attempt to sieve the truth from rumors would inevitably leave important issues unaccounted for, something that would not be in the university’s or the public’s best interest.

An inquiry conducted by an independent body to UNC-Chapel Hill and the innately intertwined University of North Carolina system should look closely into all allegations surrounding the athletics programs at UNC. Its scope should include, but not be limited to, interactions with agents, illegal payments, academic improprieties, the misuse of the Sweet Caroline host program, and recruiting practices – particularly of former UNC Associate Head Football Coach, John Blake, whose shady reputation long preceded his tenure in Chapel Hill.

The investigative body should have the full force of the law on its side with subpoena powers and the power to recommend prosecution if supported by its findings. The team should be given the latitude to follow whatever paths the evidence may lead. That is as it should be, and for the public’s faith to be restored in the fair play of athletic endeavors of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, that is how it must be.

It is true that a multi-pronged NCAA investigation is currently ongoing. Unfortunately, the NCAA has tainted its investigation with the documented involvement of a former UNC football player, double degree holder from the school, and admitted fan of the athletics program as a member of their investigative team!! (Click here for our most recent entry on this topic for background). The proverbial well of impartiality has been poisoned. While Marcus Wilson may be thorough and impartial, his very presence creates a perception of “a man on the inside” of the NCAA – something to which UNC’s fans have made numerous allusions to repeatedly since the NCAA process began.

There is also an investigation ongoing by the State of North Carolina’s Elaine Marshall. But, Marshall is not investigating the University of North Carolina, she is investigating sports agents and laws those agents may have broken. There is a huge difference. In fact, Ms. Marshall could not have been any more clear than she was on the very first day her probe was announced regarding her complete disinterest in investigating UNC-CH:

“We’ll be investigating the agents,” Marshall said said. “We will not be investigating the school [University of North Carolina].”

Marshall, a Maryland alumnus who went to law school at Campbell University, is currently busy running for the US Senate against Richard Burr in a race that is tighter than most expected. If you haven’t figured out that looking for votes to become Senator in the state of North Carolina does not mix well with investigating the state of North Carolina’s most popular University, then consider the logistical issues at play — even if Ms. Marshall were interested in actually getting to the real truth, she could not support the investigation with the appropriate level of oversight from the campaign trail. That leaves her subordinates to do the heavy lifting in the state’s investigation, and that’s where the circle once again loops down NC 54 towards Chapel Hill as her office is filled with Carolina Law diplomates. Once again, there is a huge problem with a perception of impartiality.

Finally, the University itself is investigating allegations of academic impropriety.  While UNC-CH surely takes its core mission of education very seriously, it is also wise to remember that the school itself is managed and operated by career bureaucrats who will naturally protect their best interests – themselves.  Lisa Broome, UNC’s athletic faculty representative and former faculty rep, Jack Evans, will partner with Chancellor Holden Thorp and Athletics Director, Dick Baddour on the investigation. These are the same people that have been at the University during what appears to be a gross lack of institutional control.

What is the rationale of allowing the people who were not originally controlling the environment to now investigate and police the environment? Isn’t that what they were previously supposed to be doing? What is the incentive for the current UNC investigative team to vigorously pursue nuggets of evidence that may lead them to places and revelations that could permanently damage the reputation of the University that they love and have invested careers in building? What incentive do they have to dig deeper into findings that could very well lead to their institutional embarrassment in addition to their own personal termination of employment, or even legal prosecution?

Looking for leadership from the University of North Carolina system? Look elsewhere. The silence from the systems’ Board of Governors has been so deafening that it has become an embarrassment.

Looking for impartiality from the Atlantic Coast Conference’s office? To this point, the conference office and Commissioner have had very little — if anything — to say about the matter.  Then again, how surprising is this silence when the ACC’s Commissioner, John Swofford, is a former UNC-CH quarterback and Athletics Director? Unfortunately, poor Mr. Impartiality needs to keep searching for someone to come to his aid.

What we now know regarding what’s been going on in Chapel Hill reveals a significant need for a full and complete investigation by an independently appointed panel whose results can be revealed to the public following its conclusion.

Perhaps it is time to dust off the original charter of the 1989 Poole Commission, the body that independently investigated NC State in the wake of the Valvano Scandal.  That commission and its investigation was not populated by members in good standing with the NC State “Good Ole Boy Network” – instead, it had members from all corners of North Carolina who were interested in getting to the bottom of the then-swirling allegations and putting the light of truth to the problems that surrounded NC State’s men’s basketball program.  A new “Poole Commission” to look into UNC football is the only avenue to the truth.

UNC-Chapel Hill graduates and supporters should take note that the 1989 Poole Commission – and the other multiple investigations into NC State University’s issues more than two decades ago – created fantastic results for NC State. At the expense of thousands of man hours and unquantifiable dollars, all of the light possible found no institutionalized cheating or academic fraud within the University. There was no grade fixing. There was no cheating. In short, players who did not deserve to matriculate or graduate were, in fact, not graduating and therefore not destroying the value of the diploma that so many hang so proudly.

The NCAA investigation running simultaneously with the Poole Commission found that NC State players were selling complimentary shoes and tickets, without the coaches’ knowledge. In fact, the NCAA’s lead investigator, Dave Didion, was so appreciative and impressed with (1) the access he received while in Raleigh and (2) the lack of material findings of wrongdoing that he wrote an unprecedented letter to Jim Valvano stating that he would be ‘PROUD’ to have his very own son play for Coach V.

Doesn’t UNC-Chapel Hill and all of its proud graduates deserve the exact same opportunity to clense itself of the stigma and questions that could forever cloud its program and institution that NC State was given? How wonderful would it be for Carolina grads to be able to walk with their head high knowing they were cleared of true institutional scandal like the findings of NC State’s situation twenty years ago?

Without an independent look into what’s really going on in Chapel Hill, we can’t be sure the real truth as to will ever see the light of full public disclosure.  The people of this great state deserve that light, and the student-athletes that toil under the baby blue banner deserve their chance to be exonerated; while the guilty deserve the full punishment of college sports’ regulating body, the honor code of the University of North Carolina, and the appropriate state and federal laws.

Otherwise, any lip service UNC-CH gives to valuing education above all else rings hollow and means nothing. It is time to really find out if the “Carolina Way” means anything other than “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

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35 Responses to Independent Investigation Into UNC Athletics Needed

  1. El Scrotcho 09/07/2010 at 3:47 PM #

    Nice article – I would wager that there is a strong contingent among the tenured faculty (not the admin) that will be interested in putting the hurt on athletics. That should be at least a bit of a counterbalance to the self interest of the bureaucrats.

  2. old13 09/07/2010 at 3:59 PM #

    Agree with the premise of the article whole heartedly! Also, note that Swofford was not only AD at UNC-Cheat, he played FB there and got his degree from there – closer ties than merely being AD.

  3. 61Packer 09/07/2010 at 4:04 PM #

    “While UNC-CH surely takes its core mission of education very seriously, it is also wise to remember that the school itself is managed and operated by career bureaucrats who will naturally protect their best interests: namely, themselves.”

    Bingo. Even a politician will help somebody else on occasion. A bureaucrat, though, will never do that. The only proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that we’ll ever see out of this mess will be the oncoming trainwreck that is now UNC football.

  4. LRM 09/07/2010 at 4:16 PM #

    Hmmm….seems I’ve seen a column like this one before…maybe when I was much younger. Why does this seem SO familiar? Just can’t place it.

  5. bradleyb123 09/07/2010 at 6:21 PM #

    Well done, Alpha.

  6. NCStatePride 09/07/2010 at 6:22 PM #

    Crazy talk, LRM. Loss of institutional control is a b****. Great article Alpha. I’m going to be really, really interested to see if/when Swofford decides it’s FINALLY time for him to break his silence.

  7. StateFans 09/07/2010 at 6:24 PM #

    LRM…I hope I didn’t deviate too much from Alpha’s very witty core premise when I added some things.

    Perhaps he can come back through and get it back to exact wording where I might of messed it up.

  8. ervthompson2001 09/07/2010 at 6:27 PM #

    You guys are dreaming if you think we will see an Independent investigation of this mess. There is too much power in the administration and they will never let that happen.

  9. GrandWolf 09/07/2010 at 6:29 PM #

    As an “older Wolfpacker”, I have been around a long time. I must say, sizing up decades of experiencing the [snicker] UNC “Mystique”, that is a very even handed and fair editorial that says it all.

  10. tuckerdorm1983 09/07/2010 at 6:46 PM #

    Lets get John Edwards to do it, he doesn’t have a lot on his plate these days.

  11. tjfoose1 09/07/2010 at 7:18 PM #

    “Marcus Wilson, not Joe. Never thought the rabbit hole was so deep that it would tie into the Valerie Plame mess.”

    Marcus, Joe… What about Charlie?

  12. st8family 09/07/2010 at 7:20 PM #

    As far as I know, Chuck Amato is independent and is looking for work. Just sayin….

  13. Old MacDonald 09/07/2010 at 7:28 PM #

    Per WRAL Greg Little just hired Butch Williams — a famous Durham criminal defense attorney. How much does anyone want to bet that GL has gotten a subpeona (or knows one is coming) from the SOS’ office? No inside info, just putting 2 and 2 together.

  14. mikeD 09/07/2010 at 7:28 PM #

    ^I would hate it if Amato went to coach there. I wouldn’t mind if he could somehow come back and work for our defense. Maybe not the greatest head coach, but he can recruit (and do so cleanly as far as we can tell). We could still use some help on that side of the ball.

  15. RickJ 09/07/2010 at 7:31 PM #

    This is my favorite entry I’ve ever read on this blog and that is saying a lot.

  16. Alpha Wolf 09/07/2010 at 7:32 PM #

    ^ with all due respect to Chuck Amato, I would prefer to see the DC job go to Jon Tenuta. His d’s were fearsome at both UNC and GT, and I think in less than one year he would have our kids playing at a level that would give other teams fits. We’ll find out as soon as Saturday night what ideas Archer is using in this year’s edition.

  17. Daily Update 09/07/2010 at 7:32 PM #

    Old Mac: Butch Williams is also a sports agent. I think his son might play football at Central and maybe even sat out a game this weekend. The son is friends with Greg Little.

  18. ADVENTUROO 09/07/2010 at 7:38 PM #

    Trees will tap dance, elephants will drive in the Indianapolis 500 and Marvin Austin will skip breakfast, lunch and dinner before there is an independent investigation of the UNC Football program.

    Having been around this old planet for longer than I care to remember…or as Billy Joel say, when I wore a YOUNGER MAN’s clothes, I really would expect to Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the White House and President Obama for high, treasonous crimes BEFORE UNC Chancellor Holden Thorpe issues a plea for an “Independent Investigation”

    WHAT have your folks been consuming this afternoon instead of working diligently? Did you make it home SAFELY without injuring the rest of the motoring public?

    Each morning I DO look at the N&O Editorial Page, but I do not hold my breath in anticipation of the headlines back in 1989…

    Perhaps you should plan a convoy to Oxford, GA and organize a 60’s “sit in” on Claude Sitton’s front yard. The address is 1223 Wesley St, Oxford, GA. In case you want to know what is for dinner, his phone number is 770-784-9156. If you can convince him that “getting Butch Davis” will be just as nobel a cause as was getting the late, great Jimmy V., then I WILL JOIN THE CRUSADE. I have my trusty steed ready and my lance has been re-inforced with carbon fibers. I am also working on an award winning renedtion of “The Impossible Dream”. I am told that American Idol Scouts will find it “overwhelming”….

    If you can get Claude on board….then, perhaps the Indy Racing League will have to increase the seat width of the IRL cars.

    All this makes, as Bob Lee says, for GOOD THEATER….

    However, the dramatics of our fans should NOT outshine the luniacy of UNX folks….remember, we have not (YET) had an NCSU Fan identified by a witness because of a Face Tattoo….

    BUT….stranger things have happened…..

    Back to watching O’Reilley….

    PS….since some seem to have been severly overcome by the “devil’s cup” as they write, I would suggest that they DO give old Claude a call and get his take on this. As an EX Pulizer Prize winner, he just MIGHT see some merit in this and call his buddies up at the N&O and get them “focused”

  19. Sweet jumper 09/07/2010 at 8:16 PM #

    Alpha Wolf, Thanks for the fair, level-headed, informative entry.

  20. tuckerdorm1983 09/07/2010 at 8:36 PM #

    you folks have got it all wrong. This here is what you call “a learning lesson” that is all

  21. backnine 09/07/2010 at 8:51 PM #

    Fine piece of writing and spot on! I hope someone will ensure this finds its way into certain people’s hands. The new UNC President is one of them. I know he got his law degree from UNC but I’m hoping the man does indeed have integrity and is interested in starting his presidency by ensuring his member campuses have it too. The truth will set you free.

  22. MemphisPackFan 09/07/2010 at 8:53 PM #

    LRM…could this be what you are thinking?

  23. graywolf 09/07/2010 at 8:53 PM #

    AMEN! What’s good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander…….and the golden goose that is the unc-ch has laid a rotten egg. My hope is that the national media continues to play this over and over on national TV causing the good ole boys at the BOG office to finally give way to an independent investigation.

  24. ADVENTUROO 09/07/2010 at 9:17 PM #

    Lest some of you think I am a troll and will be banned (as they do on the Inside Carolina site)…..if you DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT???

    TONIGHT, the IC posters BEGGED the moderators to ALLOW comments and NOT lock or delete a certain thread. I READ over there. I do NOT post or inflame them. They do an admirable job on their on.

    WHAT I AM AFRIAD OF….is that we, the WPN will get caught up in the sitation and end up looking as idiotic as the UNX’er are now.

    WHAT I DO PREDICT….is that UNLESS there are MORE rotten eggs found in the nest, then this thing will BLOW OVER. There will be repercussions…not major ones…but some. I posted a comment about Butch’s Contract (it disappeared) that stated WHY he was in trouble.

    It does NOT have the SAME momentum as Golenbach’s book. It does NOT have the MSM screaming for a Spangler Investigation.

    The ONE redeeming thing is that the NCAA is involved, to MORE depths than we know. When Greg Little gets a high profile lawyer (reported HERE and over THERE), then something is brewing.

    I TOTALLY support Elaine Marshall’s investigation, even though I know that it is 100% political. I HOPE that she uncovers the REAL truth and then turns the info over to the Wake County DA and Roy Cooper (AG).

    I also HOPE that the NEW feature (Criminal Mug Shot Photos) on the N&O will have SOME of the UNC crowd as the featured shots….

    But, in my own world of reality, a FULL SCALE INVESTIGATION, as well deserved as it probably is, is NOT in the cards….YET!

    I HATE to see our fan base get caught up and start shooting from the hip and look as moronic as the UNX fan base is.

    This IS political theater. I has it own plot and timing. I THINK that more will come out. I THINK that Blake’s ugly habits will be revealed. I THINK (eventually) that there will be some type of investigation, if not, some still NCAA penalties. HOWEVER, as well written and logical as Alpha’s article is….it is NOT going to happen.

    NOW…if we all start bombarding the BOT and the BOG and our politicians and keep the message to less than 25 words and don’t “trash talk” UNC, then it MAY happen….

    BETTER YET….Do you REALIZE that the UNX Faculty has NOT come out with a “Lack of CONFIDENCE” vote as our illustrious Faculty did for Jimmy V. If you KNOW a UNC faculty member of a member of their family…THAT is the place to ask the question. WHERE are the FACULTY on this? Why haven’t THEY taken the lead. That was suggested on the IC, but the poster got banned and the thread disappered.

    SO, please understand my barbs….I just DO NOT want the mainstream NCSU fans to run out tomorrow and do a Chicken Little routine in front of the UNX fan base.

    SO…that is my take….

    GO PACK…

  25. mikeD 09/07/2010 at 9:26 PM #

    Relax Adventuroo. If somebody were to jump the gun and claim something untrue, that’s their fault. That one person does not represent the Wolfpack nation. So chill for a while and just let it play out.

    Alpha, I’m all for Tenuta getting the DC job. I’ve seen the track record, and it’s awesome. I say bring Amato on to make up the difference in recruiting. Tenuta doesn’t care for recruiting, right? Seems like a great combo to me. That’s how I originally pictured it.

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