CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina administrators planned this afternoon to interview an un-named number of football staff members for the Tar Heels' interim head football coachin position. Athletic director Dick Baddour – who said he will step down from his position as soon as a new AD is found – said he hopes to have a decision about who will replace Butch Davis wrapped up today or early tomorrow.
Practice starts August 5.
“These are unusual times, so we want someone who can pull this team together, that this team responds to, that this team respects, that the coaching staff respects, that has tremendous value for the institution, that recognizes the difficulty of this situation, and can be a strong enough leader to take us through it,’’ Baddour said.
UNC announced Wednesday that it had dismissed Butch Davis, who was set to begin his fifth season in Chapel Hill, in order “to restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program,” chancellor Holden Thorp said, in the wake of an NCAA investigation that found nine allegations of possible major infractions. The investigation began more than a year ago.
Thorp began this morning’s news conference by addressing the players on the football team, most of whom are still at home on summer break, but will return to campus next week: “You have already been through a lot this last year, and I know this is adding to that,’’ he said. “I want you to know that the University is behind you. We are totally committed to your success, and to a successful football program. Thank you for putting on a Carolina uniform and representing our University.”
Baddour would not name the candidates for interim head coach. But the best bets likely include associate head coach Sam Pittman, defensive coordinator Everett Withers and offensive coordinator John Shoop.
Baddour added that he continues to have confidence in the football team, and that he knows it can overcome its latest adversity.
“We had almost an impossible situation last year and it won’t be any easier,’’ he said. “We had a number of things going for us last year: we had a great staff, and we had terrific leadership on the team that pulled that team through. Sooner or later, it does get down to the leadership on the team, and that will be their challenge this year.
"We have a terrific group; I just met with our assistant coaches this morning; Butch Davis has put together a wonderful staff, and they are absolutely ready to respond, and the University will be very proud of them. I feel the same way about our student-athletes. Our coaches were calling students, beginning immediately yesterday, and I feel the strength of that leadership will be there, I believe they will respond, and we will be proud of the way they respond.”