Let me say, no one fan base has a corner on crazy. The internet and message board era of sports fandom creates countless forum where fans can anonymously spew the most inane and ridiculous statements without filter save the one the cleans up the profanity. It is an understood that every fan base has this segment of "internet crazies" and the principles of free speech on which this country operates afford them their voice regardless of how idiotic they might sound. Such voices can be dismissed as being "just fans" and there is no expectation that they act responsibly aside from treating other people with respect within the online community in question.
There are certain individuals who pass themselves off as journalists and even enjoy the privileges of media access. In doing that they assume a responsibility to write and publish articles that adhere to certain standards. Such persons do not have the luxury of spouting off every crackpot theory that comes along. Apparently longtime Tar Heel writers/journalists Art Chansky and Eddy Landreth do not operate that way. In the past two weeks have both engaged in the kind of writing that is often found on message boards and do not serve the vested interest of bringing this whole sordid mess to a quiet end. Chansky got the party started by reporting rumors and attempting to draw connections to UNC's NOA response in an effort to validate his own agenda against Butch Davis. Now Tar Heel Illustrated's Eddy Landreth has entered the fray with essentially baseless accusations of conflicts of interest and some grand conspiracy between the chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, his law firm, the News and Observer and WRAL. Yes. Really.
On July 27, 2011, the new chair of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, Wade H. Hargrove, appears to have violated the State Government Ethics Act by failing to reveal a potential conflict of interest in the NCAA investigation of Carolina's football program and now-former head coach Butch Davis.
The law firm of which Hargrove is a partner -- Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, L.L.P. -- represents the Raleigh News & Observer and Capitol Broadcasting. Either Hargrove himself or his law firm has represented the News & Observer at three times in court since the late 1980s.
These cases are a public record.
Both the News & Observer and Capitol Broadcasting had sued the university for all information in regards to the NCAA investigation of the football program recently before Hargrove became chair of the Board of Trustees.
There is no evidence the firm represented either party against UNC in this particular suit, but both remain clients, which is information Hargrove should have revealed.
Hargrove does not appear to have removed himself from the discussions concerning the UNC football case and/or the firing of Davis, both before and after the fact.
He had an obligation to recuse himself and to make clear the reasons for his recusal, on the record, and in a public setting.
The State Governement Ethics Act states that it is not enough for board members to have an actual conflict of interest. They must avoid all all appearances of conflicts.
Whether Hargrove ever actually participated in any of the court proceedings against UNC is irrelevant in regards to the law. He is a member of the law firm that sued UNC on behalf of the Raleigh News & Observer in the past.
The N&O had repeatedly called for Davis to be fired, and Capitol Broadcasting, which also owns a Raleigh radio station that hosts a sports talk show that had consistently attacked Davis and criticized UNC for not firing him, as well as GoPack.com, the official Website of one of UNC's main rivals, N.C. State University.
Simply Landreth's beef here is that BOT chair Wade Hargrove's law firm has had the News and Observer and Capitol Broadcasting as clients for an extended period dating back two decades. Landreth says because of this connection and the editorial position of the N&O that Davis should be fired not to mention the fact Capitol owns GoPack.com(and let's throw in that they broadcast Wolfpack games too) this means Hargrove is conflicted in his ability to take part in the decision of whether to fire Butch Davis or not. Except Landreth doesn't really explain why Hargrove is conflicted. His law firm represents to local media outlets but not in the recent lawsuits over the release of public records. Is Landreth saying Harvgrove was unable to make an objective decision on Davis because he was beholden to clients of his law firm, one of who had called expressly for Davis' dismissal? Or is it the mere appearance of impropriety that has Landreth's dander up?
Let's just cut right to it. Can someone explain to me why we are spending this much ink over a coach who was fired because nine major NCAA violations happened on his watch? NCAA violations which have already resulted in the vacating of 16 wins, reductions in scholarships and probation even before the NCAA makes its final judgment. Seriously, on one side we have Chansky who apparently wants people to pat him on the back and tell him he was right about firing Davis to the point he is dredging up crap that only makes UNC look worse. On the other side you have Landreth and any number of folks on the UNC fan base who are hellbent on defending Davis to the point of accusing BOT members of a conflict of interest. Never mind the fact Davis hired John Blake which was a decision that has done far more damage to UNC that Hargrove stepping out of the conference room for a cup of coffee. I just don't get it. I don't get the devotion and loyalty to a man who, in my opinion, had less loyalty to UNC in his whole body than Roy William does in his pinkie finger. I don't get why people think Butch Davis is worth this kind of angst and internal conflict at a time when the focus should be on the COI hearing, hiring a new AD, finalizing the football coaching position and accepting the final penalties. This is all pointless. All a bunch of sactimonious whining from people who didn't care about the fact Davis brought Blake in from the start but now are so butthurt over Davis' firing they want to continue to drag the school through the mud.
What most of these people fail to realize and have failed to understand since July last year is the media scrutiny, the attention from the local talking heads, suspension of players and the firing of Butch Davis wasn't for nothing. While Davis was not named in the notice of allegations, it is still his program and in his program NCAA violations occurred. To put it another way, "if you don't start nothing, there won't be nothing." UNC broke rules. Coaches who head up programs that commit nine major NCAA violations do not tend to survive. We can argue about the timing which sucked mightily but the deed is done. It was a deed that was inevitable by every standard used to analyze these types of situation. All of this whining, complaining and general screeching about being right, firing Holden Thorp, suing UNC over the Blue Zone and floating accusations against the Board of Trustees is all completely useless to me..
Let. It. Go.
Seriously. Let it go. Drop it. Move on and look to the future. Whatever cliche or phrase that gets you going, let's bury this crap and move on. Let's stop dragging stuff up every two weeks which distracts from the team on the field and doesn't do UNC any good. For a group of people who claim to love UNC so much they have a strange way of showing it. And for Chansky and Landreth, who are both semi-retired, let me say this as clearly and succinctly as possible.
Go and buy a house next to John Bunting down at the beach, sit around on your screened in porches and vent among yourselves so the rest of us can move on.
This crap is an embarrassment to the fan base and fuels the lunatics among our rivals. The only thing we should concern ourselves with now is supporting the team on the field and figuring out the future. I guess these guys want to argue that the current leadership of the school is incapable of crafting the right future for the football program. I'm not buying it, at least not yet. We here at THF, have said from the beginning to let all of this play out to the proper conclusion and then judge whether the UNC administration did the right things or not. I know that is difficult in an instant information age. I know there is a great temptation to fill the void with anything remotely close to a real story to drive traffic. Doing so is also wrong and makes the rest of us look like idiots.
Throughout this ordeal those who have had issues with the media or the chancellor or anyone else disagreeing with them think the best way to get results is attack, insult and go to war with these people. Ripping the local media doesn't make it stop nor does flying banners condemning the chancellor or badly implying the chair of the BOT is acting unethically. These are battles that no one will win and in the end it only makes UNC fans look incredibly idiotic. I don't care which side of the fence you are on in this mess. Engaging in this quasi-civil war within Tar Heel Nation is utterly pointless and does zero good, least of which for the school all of us claim to love.