As Joe Ovies just pointed out via Twitter, every time you think the Tar Heels can just focus on football, more shiny objects appear in the room.
The first is Chris Hawkins, former player and currently classified by the NCAA as an agent-like creature. I guess that means he is an Orc or something. Anyway, Hawkins has been hanging around the football team for an undetermined period of time. Hawkins' name popped up early in the investigation as being in contact with Kendric Burney, Charles Brown and Shaun Draughn. He also bought the jersey of Georgia player A.J. Green earning Green a four game vacation from the ruling body. Now we find out Hawkins was arrested last year for possession of crack cocaine while driving a moving van rented by former Clinton HS RB and current Pittsburgh Steeler Willie Parker (two can play this game Willie!) During Butch Davis' media availability on Thursday, ACC Now's Joe Giglio asked Davis about Hawkins with confrontational and comical results (video here.) Giglio started by asking Davis what he knew about Chris Hawkins at which point Davis plead the fifth and told him to go ask Dick Baddour. Then this happened:
Joe Gilgio: If your concern is runners and he[Hawkins] has been defined as an runner, as an agent by the NCAA how prudent is it to have him in your facility and having relationships with players who are pertinent to your team?
Butch Davis: You know what Joe, he is not in our facility.
Giglio: He's never been in your facility?
Davis: He is not in our facility
Giglio: Are you saying he's never been in your facility?
Davis: He is not in our facility
Giglio: He's not there right now but, Sam I Am, but has he ever been in the weight room? Has he ever been hanging around the team?
Davis: Joe you just said "Is he in our facility and is it prudent to have him around?" He is no longer in our facility and he is not in our facility at this time.
Now, there are many UNC fans who are ready to string Giglio up. Speaking for myself I thought the exchange was rather amusing especially when Giglio goes Dr. Seuss on the whole thing. First of all, the question is legitimate. Should individuals who the NCAA has labeled the equivalent of plutonium as it relates to your player's eligibility be allowed into the football facility? The answer to that is "depends on their motives" and Dick Baddour says as much when asked about it:
"We want former players to come back and be around, for all of our programs," Baddour said. "Clearly, we're going to have to go deeper and determine the motivation of some former players."
I think some Tar Heel fans are objecting to how aggressive Giglio pursued the line of inquiry and his attempt to trap Davis by asking if Hawkins had ever been there. I really do not have an issue with reporters being aggressive. Davis is media savvy enough to handle tough questions. In this case he deflected Giglio's attempt to dig deeper and pointed out he actually answered the first question above as asked by saying Hawkins is not there now. No harm, no foul really.
The problem Hawkins presents for Davis and UNC is the creation of more questions in the court of public opinion. Did Davis know who he was? Did Davis know the NCAA had labeled him a minion of the Dark Lord Sauron? Did Davis or anyone at UNC know about the felony arrest? Is the back door to Kenan Football Center propped open with brick so anyone can walk in? If so, can I cancel my membership at the YMCA and use their facilities instead?It is just more questions and a greater possibility that this mess might get deeper and uglier the longer if goes on. Does Hawkins having a drug charge mean NCAA violations were committed? No, nor does Hawkins associating with players despite his designation. Remember, former UNC basketball player Mahktar Ndyiae is now an agent. I am also sure he has been around the basketball program since he played in the the pro alumni game last year. The question Baddour raises is the correct one: What are the motivations and intents of a former player who is also an agent-like creature? The issue there is those things are really difficult to discern. Should UNC simply bar anyone who might be an agent regardless of their status as a former player? That might be too much but the suggestion has been made from the ABC side of the room that Hawkins' history was questionable enough someone should have flagged him. That line of thinking puts Hawkins and John Blake in the same boat. There are whispers but nothing firm. Does that mean rumor and reputation should carry greater weight when vetting someone? If so, how fair is that or better yet if that is case then how many programs out there are looking at what UNC is facing right now?
At any rate, we have reached a point where this story is mostly written by the media coverage, tweeted rumors and message board missives. The final report will bring closure but ultimately the various factions with skin in this particular game have already made up their mind what the agent and academic scandals at UNC are all about. The longer it goes on, the more of these layers get integrated into the cultural myth currently being created among the tribes of ACC partisans in the Triangle area.
In other news, Marvin Austin is having a conversation with the NC Secretary of State's office today. I'm sure that will work out just fine for UNC. *facepalm*