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A Response to Art Chansky’s Call for Butch’s Job

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colin Colin Hoggard
A lifelong Tar Heel fan and North Carolina resident, Colin first...
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A new and somewhat surprising voice has joined the chorus calling for Butch Davis to be fired by the University of North Carolina. Art Chansky, perhaps the author most synonymous with UNC athletics has weighed in and does not mince words with his opinions on both Butch Davis and athletic director, Dick Baddour.  Chanksy attempts to come across again as a concerned alum, but his tone and misrepresentation of facts would seem to suggest he’s just a guy with an axe to grind hoping to rouse support from people who have read and enjoyed his work for so long.

Most upsetting about Chansky’s column is his suggestion that the University should do not what’s right, but what is easy.  He lists two choices for Carolina’s leadership:

“1. Allow Davis to coach the 2011 season under constant inquiry and suspicion over what else may come out and what will result from the October 28 hearing with the NCAA.

2. Remove Davis as head coach, let coordinators John Shoop and Everett Withers coach the team and give the players and fans a break from the non-stop controversy. “

How about option 3. Stick by your head coach and endure the tough times, believing there can be good times ahead (and maybe learn your lesson and not recommend new coaches).

Chansky’s desire for change is curious from a historical standpoint. 51 years ago, UNC’s head basketball coach Frank McGuire and Chancellor Bill Aycock were in the middle of an NCAA investigation. McGuire was hit with fifteen recruiting violations and was uncooperative with investigators who were convinced that unsubstantiated expenditures were payoffs to prospects. On January 10, 1961, the school was placed on probation, but McGuire continued to coach, despite probation and a post-season ban.

According to Art Chansky’s book, Light Blue Reign, “McGuire had deeply divided the Carolina community, the alumni fan base, and even the administration, which was under pressure to clean up the program and build some insulation from the unsavory elements threatening college basketball.”

[ed. Note: Now read that with ‘Butch Davis’ and ‘football’ inserted.]

In one of Chansky’s other books, The Dean’s List, is a copy of a letter sent by Chancellor Aycock to Coach McGuire from April of 1961 in which he, “wrote that, following the NCAA’s review [of the program after the year of probation] he would recommend to President Bill Friday and the UNC Board of Trustees whether to extend or terminate McGuire’s contract when it expired in 1963. ‘The number of games won or lost during the next season will not be a material factor in my recommendation,’ Aycock continued in his letter, ‘All of us desire…to have a basketball season which will reflect the highest credit on the University.”

Coach McGuire was granted a shot at redemption that Chansky apparently feels coaches no longer deserve, despite McGuire’s clear involvement in the violations while Butch has not been directly linked.

In Light Blue Reign, Chansky describes McGuire as “devastated” when he found out one of his players, Lou Brown, had been arrested in connection with point shaving. Chansky paints McGuire as a sympathetic figure, a courtesy he doesn’t extend to Butch. Of course, had Frank McGuire been fired as Mr. Chansky suggests should be done in Butch’s case, it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that a certain assistant coach may have forever left UNC.

Chansky also trots out the same old Ohio State and USC comparisons loaded with opinion and devoid of facts, but also a new one stating, “Georgia Tech received four years probation and a $100,000 fine for one player receiving impermissible benefits totaling $312.” Far be it from me, but if you can’t be bothered to read a 26-page document, as a professional writer, maybe you shouldn’t be calling for someone else to lose their job. From the public report, “Georgia Tech officials disobeyed explicit instructions from the enforcement staff to protect the integrity of the investigation. “ This wasn’t just $312 and it’s absurd and inaccurate to paint it as such (for the record, just adding up the $ in the report it was $426, but anyhow).

Art Chansky lost his job as a direct result of this investigation and seemingly he wants someone, anyone to share that same fate. He flails wildly with half-quotes more befitting a movie trailer and apparently couldn’t be bothered to research a piece in which he’s calling for someone’s job. Despite both coaches finding themselves in similar situations, Art has always shown reverence to Frank McGuire, but accuses Butch Davis of compromising the reputation and integrity of the university. Let me ponder why that might be, as I rest my head on a $100 stack of books on Tar Heel basketball.

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