UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp announced on Monday that he would resign in June. SHAWN ROCCO
CHAPEL HILL — Larry Fedora said he was shocked. Dick Baddour said he was surprised. Roy Williams said he was saddened. They were all reacting on Monday to the announcement that Holden Thorp, the University of North Carolina chancellor, would resign in June.
Here’s the story I wrote, which we published in the paper this morning. If you haven’t already, give it a read. Some other reading material:
Luke DeCock writes that this kind of announcement was inevitable for Thorp.
And Caulton Tudor opines on the sad but familiar story of a leader done in by the misdeeds of a few.
As you’ll see in the story, I caught up with Baddour, the former UNC athletic director who retired amid the NCAA investigation into the UNC athletic department. The legacies of Baddour and Thorp will perhaps be forever linked by the challenges they faced during both of their tenures.
I asked Baddour whether he thought Thorp shouldered an unfair portion of blame for all of the issues that UNC has faced during the past three years – from the NCAA investigation involving agents and academic fraud, to the African and Afro-American Studies improprieties, to the posting of Julius Peppers’ transcript, to the Tami Hansbrough/Matt Kupec drama that surfaced in the past couple of weeks.
Thorp, of course, has long been a target of ire among a segment of UNC boosters and fans, some of whom disagreed with his decision to fire former football coach Butch Davis. And as more and more embarrassing revelations continued to surface, Thorp seemed to receive more and more criticism.
“Well any time in you’re in a leadership position you know that that can happen,” Baddour said. “Certainly I experienced that. And I think at a time like this it’s really a good thing to focus on the positives that he brought to the university. …
“I don’t know how to classify things as fair or unfair. I tend to look at things that this is the reality of the situation, and as a leader you have to figure out how you’re going to deal with those things, and make the decisions. And then you let the other people sort of draw their conclusions.”
So what will your conclusion be? How will you remember Thorp?
He has been vilified by some who have searched for a scapegoat among all the problems at UNC – both those loosely related to athletics and directly related to athletics. But a leader’s legacy is often defined by the actions of others. Was Thorp a poor leader because of what transpired under his watch? Or was he a good leader who was undermined by the misdeeds of those he trusted to do the right thing?
Maybe the answer is a little bit of both ...
Another thing to note: This story might not be over. Members of the UNC faculty are urging Thorp to stay.