Pigskin Preview: Butch Davis Interview

DURHAM, N.C. --- Following Thursday's Pigskin Preview at the Washington Duke Inn, UNC head coach Butch Davis talked to reporters, all of whom asked questions pertaining to the NCAA investigation ...

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Do you anticipate having a full complement of players when you take the field against LSU?
"As I said in the banquet, the NCAA has told us not to make any comments until this review is over with. So, as disappointed as I think a lot of you are going to be, unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to answer those kinds of questions. Anything that leads to speculation would have no point to it today. The only things that I can say is basically what I said earlier – that the NCAA did come on campus [and] they are going through a review.

"As everyone here can attest to the fact, it's spreading significantly into different institutions around the country. They're going to try to work as fast and as quickly as possible to try to come to some kind of resolution and I'm sure that's not only just for ourselves, but certainly for all of the other schools."

Do you hope that the investigation hasn't hampered the optimism about the season?
"Again, that's one of those speculative questions. I'm just not going to get into any of that kind of stuff today."

Do you have confidence that your staff recruits properly?
"Absolutely. Completely. I know that we take a great deal of pride in doing things ethically and honestly. I know that the feedback we've gotten is that we're doing everything that we can to educate our young people about all kinds of things that have to do with collegiate athletics."

What would you like to see be done about agents and their influence on the game?
"Agents – it's a difficult thing to try to talk about, because certainly there are some phenomenally talented and some phenomenally good agents around the country. And I do think that agents play a certain role in the careers of athletes. There certainly is a time and a place for that. The difficult part of it is the people that deal unethically -- the people that want to try to jump the gun, the people that are trying to get a competitive edge by doing things.

"There's no place for that in collegiate athletics. I think every institution across the country, compliance people, athletic directors, head coaches, assistant coaches – everybody at an institution – they're always trying to educate. That's what we are – we're teachers. And we try to teach just like with our children. You try to teach them to do the right things. I don't necessarily think that all of the time the agents are the one single inclusive group of individuals that might be co-opting kids to doing stuff that maybe they shouldn't do through the guise of financial planners, runners and all of those types of things.

"And I will say this and it's something that I will say when this thing comes to a conclusion – having been in college football and in the NFL, and having seen this from a standpoint where 10-12-15 years ago the process excluded agents until the completion of eligibility completely made it a black and white issue. All of the times at Oklahoma State and Miami as an assistant coach and at Miami as a head coach, agents were the one single thing that was crossing the line. When the NCAA changed the rules to allow agents to be able to visit with players 18 months before the end of their eligibility or before their graduation, I think it's made everybody in America's job significantly tougher."

When you talk to the kids and tell them the right thing to do, how much are you at the mercy of them to make the right decision?
"It's no different than being a parent. You can teach your children, you can talk to them and lessons that aren't learned, you continue to teach those lessons. We've got good kids at North Carolina. We've got really good kids and we've got good parents, parents that love their kids and we love our student-athletes. We're going to continue to work hard to do everything right."

Were you blindsided by this?
"It certainly came out of left field. I don't think anybody speculated that any of this stuff was going to potentially happen, but it is what it is. One thing that I applaud our institution [for], I applaud Dick Baddour, our athletic director, and our compliance officers – they've done absolutely everything they can to comply and to expedite the situation and our players were unbelievably cooperative, so we'll get through this as quickly as possible."

Does this extra attention somewhat come with the territory of trying to raise the stature of the program?
"Well, I think certainly as your football program gets elevated, it raises the eyebrows of people around the country, just from the standpoint that you do have high-profile football players. I've been fortunate enough in coaching at Miami, both as an assistant coach and as a head coach, where we had a tremendous amount of very talented football players and there was always the potential for things where people looked into the program and a lot of times they found that there was absolutely nothing. So I think that the more talented you get, you certainly potentially have the opportunity, but I think it also provides you the opportunity to do things right and to try to have your program as transparent as you can possibly have it."

What have you tried to do to monitor the social websites?
"One of the things that we do with all of those kinds of things is we talk to our kids about electronic media, and this isn't just a knee-jerk reaction. We've been doing this ever since I've been the head football coach. Just talking about YouTube, Facebook. If you go back and take a look across the country, that's the No. 1 way that high school and college kids communicate. They talk, they Facebook friends, they develop relationships with kids at other colleges and kids they went to high school with. You just have to try to educate them as best you can about making smart decisions."

Coach, have you asked any of your players directly about if they have received agent gifts?
"Again, the NCAA has asked us not to talk at all about this particular incident until the review is over."

Since the end of the spring game, you've had Quan [Sturdivant's] arrest and now you've had this incident. Regardless of the outcome, how does this affect the momentum of the program going forward?
"I think judging by being around our players, they are very excited about the start of practice. We've had some issues that we deal with internally and I think the majority of our football program is doing absolutely everything we'd like them to do. Kids make mistakes, that's why they call you a coach and a teacher; it gives you an opportunity to try to help them learn from their mistakes and try to change."

Do you have a sense for what kind of timeframe for when you'll get a decision from the NCAA?
"The only one is what I said earlier, that I know this is a priority that they'd like to get this done as quickly and as soon as possible. The definition of that, I can't tell you."

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