No, Dickie! Go away from the light! Go away from the light!
Wait..what's that? He is not talking about dying?
In what has become a weekly tradition UNC AD Dick Baddour ran the gauntlet of media inquiries and radio interviews with the added bonus of appearing before the Raleigh Sports Council. Video of that appearance is here. Baddour also spoke with 99.9 The Fan's Adam Gold and Joe Ovies which is always interesting, mainly because AG and Joe always ask in-depth questions. Not that Baddour can answer in-depth questions and you get these long awkward pauses where Baddour tries like mad not to say the wrong thing. Other than that everyone gets an "A" for effort, particularly Baddour who has not backed away from media questions. If you are short on time here are the highlights from the two appearances:
- The most important item is UNC's appeals on behalf of Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams. They are scheduled to be heard and decided on Friday. According to The Daily Tar Heel, the appeals are via conference call and will include Baddour, Amy Herman and the student-athlete in question.
- Baddour indicated Williams' appeal is predicated on whether or not his visiting Omar Brown constituted a violation. If it is not a violation then why should it matter? Since Williams is on the hook for over $1000 of benefits and the rules say he should get four games, attacking the underlying violation is the best way to approach it. No word on how Burney's appeal will be handled. Probably along the same lines as it pertains to his trip to California. I would be less optimistic about Burney considering the bile spitting hatred the NCAA seems to have for Chris Hawkins right now, more on that in a bit.
- As for future appeals, Baddour said they would not automatically appeal all penalties. The feeling was the Williams and Burney suspensions were over the line which, according to the NCAA's own rules, is certainly true. As noted above, $1000 or more in benefits is a four game suspension not six games. That probably means there is a decent chance Burney's get reduced to four games. As a side note, anyone who gets suspended now is getting four game regardless.
- Speaking of more suspensions, Baddour did say more players had reached the "reinstatement" phase which means we will be hearing soon who is suspended and for how long.
- The curious quasi-defense of Chris Hawkins by Baddour continues. Baddour maintains that Hawkins was someone players were told they could trust and they disagree with the NCAA on him being designated an ALC. There is some logic for this tact from Baddour. From a PR angle, UNC has little choice but to cast Hawkins in the best light possible. To do otherwise is to basically admit they allowed a questionable person have free run around the football team. As for their disagreement with the NCAA that has to do with appealing Burney suspensions and possibly others down the line. If Hawkins is not an ALC or UNC can effectively prove no one could have reasonably known that it undermines any suspension tied to him. I have serious doubts it will work but there are not many options on the table.
- In terms of handling persons like Hawkins going forward, Baddour acknowledged to AG and Joe the need to shore up this area. Basically, UNC will be in the business of investigating former players and anyone else for that matter who seeks access to the players. You could probably file this under "why weren't they doing that already?" I imagine they were more circumspect about non-former players than former players which explains Hawkins' access.
- Baddour said the NCAA would be involved with the academic investigation at some point which probably means they will look over the honor court's shoulder to ensure proper discipline is meted out. However, during the radio interview Baddour said the 2nd phase of the academic probe included "broadening" the investigation presumably to include all teams. Yeah, that is cringeworthy considering cheating happens. Baddour said the NCAA would be involved after that point, again probably to sign off on what UNC found. AG has called this the equivalent baseball investigating itself via the Mitchell Report. UNC is under no obligation(other than to themselves) to delve into other teams looking for cheating. The NCAA is only aware of football players doing so as discovered during the agent probe. UNC is going above and beyond in this respect.
- One interesting acknowledgment Baddour offered was that players going "out of bounds" academically is (1) reality and (2) very difficult to control or monitor. He said while they cannot hope to stop all instances of players going off on their own to cheat they should put "checkpoints" in place to catch these issues sooner.
- The question of redshirting players who lose a season to academic penalties came up. Baddour said they could receive a redshirt if they are unable to play due to being declared academically ineligible or being on probation. That does not mean UNC would do that and it certainly opens up a line of attack from critics who say UNC is really taking the academic integrity issue seriously. Still, if it is within the rules, UNC would be within its rights to do so.
- Baddour said while he could not imagine this probe going on this long, he does see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe. Hopefully. Someone make it stop.