07/28/11 — Coggins: UNC rids itself of embarrassment, but not tarnished image

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Coggins: UNC rids itself of embarrassment, but not tarnished image

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 28, 2011 1:46 PM

Dick Baddour, athletics director at North Carolina, said enough is enough.

Integrity finally won.

Butch Davis is out as football coach at North Carolina and it's about time.

In a year when athletic programs throughout the country have caused considerable embarrassment for their respective administrations, alumni and fans, someone finally had the courage to fire a coach.

Sorry Butch. You and these other coaches under the NCAA microscope can't tuck your tails between your legs, scurry away and say "I'm sorry."

No sir, not this time.

UNC officials said Davis' dismissal Wednesday afternoon had nothing to do with any change in the ongoing NCAA investigation of the school's football program. Last month, UNC was informed by the NCAA of allegations that outlined numerous potential major violations including academic fraud and impermissible benefits. The school is expected to meet with the NCAA infractions committee in October to discuss the findings and learn its fate.

"Athletics and football are an important part of this University, and a successful football program is essential to the overall health of our athletic program," said Holden Thorp, UNC chancellor, in a statement released by the athletics department. "That's why we have to put this behind us and move forward."

No doubt.

The harm has been done and is certainly irreparable after the unethical conduct displayed by John Blake, who was dismissed after he tried to direct players to the late NFL agent Gary Wichard. His stupidity compromised the school and the program's reputation.

The administration stood steadfast behind Davis for more than year, but finds itself responsible for damage control. And yes, it's a shame that Davis has to be the fall guy for his players' and Blake's poor lack of judgment, and their blatant disregard for rules. Seven players were forced to sit the entire 2010 season. Despite those absences, the Heels defeated Tennessee in double overtime in the Music City Bowl.

The NCAA may require UNC to pay back some money and vacate its bowl victory. That penalty would undoubtedly cause further angst among its Atlantic Coast Conference brethren after Georgia Tech got caught by the NCAA last week, and had to relinquish its 2009 conference championship crown.

Ironically, Davis said earlier this week he didn't consider quitting and described the investigation as a "serious issue." The coaching staff and university had taken measures to correct past mistakes, but the embarrassment was just too much to take.

Davis' job reassurance wore thin.

The school's confidence wavered.

The correct decision was finally made when the administration worried more about the institution, and not about the wins and losses that occur on Saturday afternoons. After all, education is -- and should be -- paramount at any university and UNC hopes to regain that stature.