North Carolina officially fired head football coach Butch Davis on July 27. That much we know. However, the full details of precisely why he was fired are still trickling out, and on Thursday it became clear that another member of his family may have had a tangential role in his dismissal.
As Prep Rally's college football brother blog Dr. Saturday pointed out, North Carolina officials were none too pleased to learn that Davis had offered a scholarship to his son, Chapel Hill (N.C.) East High quarterback Drew Davis. The issue isn't just that Davis offered his son a scholarship, it's that he offered him a scholarship without consulting with anyone else in the athletic department or the university.
While all of that might make for questionable behavior, the irony (as first pointed out by Dr. Saturday in the final line of this post) is that by simply discussing the younger Davis, university officials may have actually landed the program in even more hot water than it already sits in.
Specifically, University of North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp offered up the following comments on Drew Davis to the News & Observer.
"I found out about that a couple months ago when I saw it online," Thorp said during a telephone interview today, "and yes, I was disappointed that neither the athletic director nor I knew about that." …
"Drew is a good kid and I feel bad for him in all this," Thorp said, "and for all I know, we would love to have him on the football team. But with everything going on, it would be good for the athletic director and the coach to talk about that and probably for all three of us to talk."
Interpret those statements as you will when it comes to determining whether North Carolina will actually honor its scholarship offer to the younger Davis. Regardless of what it decides, Davis -- like all other senior prospects -- has yet to sign with the school, which makes it a dead-certain recruiting violation, as stipulated by NCAA Bylaw 13.10.2, which reads exactly as follows.
Before the signing of a prospective student-athlete to a National Letter of Intent or an institution's written offer of admission and/or financial aid, a member institution may com- ment publicly only to the extent of confirming its recruitment of the prospective student-athlete. The institution may not comment generally about the prospective student-athlete's ability or the contribution that the prospec- tive student-athlete might make to the institution's team; further, the institution is precluded from commenting in any manner as to the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete's signing with that institution. Violations of this bylaw do not affect a prospective student-athlete's eligibility and are considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1. (Revised: 1/14/97)
Assuming the NCAA pays attention to Thursday's News & Observer story, Thorp's comments would push North Carolina's total of NCAA violations to 10 when the school is brought before the organization's Committee on Infractions. Given the severity of some of the other accusations against the program -- and the senior position that Thorp holds within the university -- it seems extremely unlikely that the NCAA would offer leniency toward the chancellor regarding his comments.
Does Thorp's indiscretion make Davis' prior violations any more acceptable? Probably not, but at least it can bring an ironic smile to the father of the prospect in question, if he can bring himself to smile at all these days.