Press Conference Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp and athletic director Dick Baddour addressed the firing of head coach Butch Davis at the Friday Center on Thursday.

** The talking point leading up to Thursday's press conference centered on the timing of Thorp's decision. The Chancellor admitted during his opening statement that while the timing was "terrible," the move needed to be made.

"I made the decision in the fall that I was going to support Coach Davis and his efforts to support the football program," Thorp said. "But I can no longer overlook the fact that what started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this University's integrity. I cannot stand for that. We can't get better without making a change."

Thorp said this decision has been weighing on him for the last couple of weeks and that he consulted with various people during that timeframe. He completed the process on Wednesday when he informed the UNC Board of Trustees that he was removing Davis as head football coach.

"We tried to hold things together and restore confidence in the football program," Thorp said. "I felt that in order for us to have a fair chance for that, I would have to support Coach Davis. And I've come to the conclusion that we've given that enough time and now it's time to take the actions that we're taking."

Thorp made it clear that Davis's removal was his decision and that the Board of Trustees gave their "unanimous support."

Baddour also offered his opinion on the decision.

"Holden Thorp has my complete support as Chancellor," Baddour said. "You all know that I have a great deal of respect for him both as a person and as a leader of our wonderful University. The decision that was made was unquestionably done in the best interests of the University."

According to Thorp, Davis's firing was not about any pending public records requests, nor was it about appeasing the NCAA.

"My speculation is that it won't have a material effect on the ruling we get from the NCAA," Thorp said.

Thorp could not confirm if Davis would attend the NCAA hearing in October.

North Carolina will not fire Davis with cause, meaning the former UNC head coach will receive a maximum of $2,703,500 in his buyout, beginning with an immediate payment of $270,417.

"I don't believe he knew about the things that went on," Thorp said.

** Baddour also announced his retirement after 44 years of service at UNC, including the last 14 as athletic director.

"As someone who has hired coaches for the past 14 years, I know that it is even more imperative that my successor be able to name the next permanent head coach," Baddour said. "Therefore, I have asked Chancellor Thorp to begin the search for an athletic director as soon as possible so that person may be available to hire the permanent football coach in time to recruit next season's freshman class."

"I am very, very reluctantly accepting Dick's offer to step down," Thorp said.

Baddour will serve out his contract through June 2012, but will step aside as athletic director and assume other duties when a new AD arrives. But Thorp was clear that Baddour would join him in Indianapolis for the Committee on Infractions hearing in Indianapolis on Oct. 28.

"There is nobody that I would rather have with me in Indianapolis than Dick Baddour," Thorp said. "The NCAA has extraordinary respect for Dick Baddour. That's why we've been able to cooperate in this investigation."

A new athletic director is expected to be in place in time to start preparing for a coaching search in November or December.

** The next step is for North Carolina to name an interim head coach. While Baddour would not confirm how many candidates are in the mix or offer any names, he did share that only current staff members are being considered.

Interviews are scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon. Baddour indicated that he hoped a decision would be made no later than Friday morning.

"We want someone who can pull this team together, that this team will respond to, that this team respects, that the coaching staff respects, that has tremendous value for the institution, that recognizes the difficulty of this situation and can be a strong enough leader to take us through it," Baddour said.

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