Today's Word of the Day is "Self-Sanction," which is actually two words, but for the purposes of this discussion is one word by virtue of the hyphen.
Unless you are a sports junkie, you may not have been familiar with this term until you saw it in a secondary headline on the big story on today's N&O front page by Ken Tysiac, which read: "University won't self-sanction, awaits action by NCAA."
Yesterday, speaking to the UNC board of trustees, Chancellor Holden Thorp, in the middle up there in the picture shot by Ted Richardson, between coach Butch Davis (left) and athletic director Dick Baddour (right), said the school would not impose sanctions on itself. Later on, Baddour said, well, that could change if the NCAA sends UNC what is known as a "letter of allegations."
So maybe UNC will self-sanction, and maybe it won't. I'm thinking it won't any time soon.
Self-sanctions are typically used by schools in some kind of mess involving NCAA violations as a way of showing that they get it. The thinking is that if you punish yourself, the NCAA will feel less inclined to bring the hammer down on you.
The fact that UNC isn't doing this despite the agent violations and the academic integrity, ah, issues, may mean they think the NCAA won't be too tough on them. I don't know. A lawyer mentioned in the story today who counsels schools on NCAA investigations said he expects stiff sanctions.
But maybe these sanctions won't come down for a while, particularly after UNC has signed up its next recruiting class. Thorp has said previously that it might take a year before the NCAA finishes its work. In one sense, that would leave a cloud over the program, but in another sense, time may be UNC's friend here. Particularly if they have a terrific season next fall, which UNC could.
UNC is trying to become a big-time football program. That's why it went out and got a big-time coach like Butch Davis. That's why it has embarked on a big-time construction program at Kenan Stadium, a move aimed at bringing in the kind of revenues that will not only help fund football but all the sports at UNC that don't make money.
As I read today's story, I thought about all this, and realized how interconnected everything is at UNC. The future of the football program, the future of Butch Davis, the future of the facilities expansion, paying for all the scholarships required for the non-revenue sports. If UNC gives a good hard shove to its football program too soon in the form of self-sanctions - maybe it doesn't go to a bowl next year, maybe it loses a bunch of football scholarships -- then things can unravel. Maybe hot recruits go to football programs unencumbered by post-season restrictions, etc. Better, if you are UNC, to play for time, may be the thinking in Chapel Hill.