State News

Former AD defends UNC's protection of student-athlete records

Posted March 11, 2013

— In a panel discussion Monday about public records, Dick Baddour, former UNC director of athletics, and Jon Sasser, attorney for former UNC football coach Butch Davis, joined journalists and other lawyers in laying out their takes on the news media's investigation of the Tar Heel football program.

Academics and journalists gathered Monday at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University to mark "Sunshine Day," an annual look at public records law and open government.

Dick Baddour, former AD at UNC Sunshine Day: Public records and UNC

Baddour opened by distancing himself from his former job, telling the audience that he was speaking only for himself and not on behalf of the university. Moderator Debra Morgan, of WRAL News, pointed out that Sunshine Day organizers invited UNC to send a representative and leaders there declined.

The former AD stood by the university's decision to stall and resist when asked for records including phone calls to and from Davis and student-athlete parking tickets. He said UNC leaders were committed to perfect compliance with the NCAA investigation, and that forced them to remain silent on some issues.

Davis' representative said the release of his phone records had subjected the former coach to hassling phone calls and forced him to change his phone number.

Davis continues to suffer from his connection to the NCAA allegations against the Tar Heels, his lawyer said, despite being exonerated of any wrong-doing. Sasser said his client has been unable to get a coaching job. "There's still so much pollution out there in social media that it's hard for the truth to get out," he said.

Sasser also explained the competitive advantage of keeping the work of coaches – in recruiting and game plans – hidden from the public. 

Media lawyer Amanda Martin countered that Davis' problems were of his own making. "Coach Davis could have avoided all of this if he had given his personal number to his friends and his work number to his work colleagues," she said.

"I don't think the second cell phone is necessarily the answer," Baddour countered. 

Davis was fired and Baddour retired from UNC as scandal swirled that football players accepted gifts, trips and cash and were registered for classes that never met. The university, in a series of internal and external investigations, has said that the problems with changed grades and no-show classes were limited to one department and did not benefit student-athletes any more than other students.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp, who has said he'd leave Chapel Hill later this spring, was in attendance, but he declined the opportunity to address the assembled crowd.

"I think now it's time to move on," Baddour said.

The keynote speaker for the day was Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

The program was sponsored by the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition and hosted by North Carolina State University Student Media.

24 Comments

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  • unc70 Mar 12, 7:22 p.m.

    Of course he does , he does not want the info about his programs out there could cause a... View More

    — Posted by Sherlock

    The Secretary of State investigation is being made public. It and the SBI investigation are sharing information. All their new findings last fall, particularly after the Georgia raid, has found large amounts of evidence, some about UNC and a lot involving others elsewhere previously unconnected to this scandal.

  • Sherlock Mar 12, 1:50 p.m.

    Of course he does , he does not want the info about his programs out there could cause a problem. However if the SBI is doing the investigation then the public will never know about the out come. Even thought we pay for it with tax money, they have the court seal all their investigations.

  • BigUNCFan Mar 12, 11:57 a.m.

    Just get it all out, take any punishments and move on. Crisis management 101. The longer you delay and defer and push back, the more you make people mad and have them want to go after you even more.

    It is short term pain to get it over with. I don't understand why people in these situations where the guilt is clear want to drag it out so long.

    If they had just be open from the get go, this would have been over with years ago instead of being drug up over an over again.

    Poor management across the board. All of them needed to go years ago and finally the last of the lot is going this spring.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Mar 12, 11:01 a.m.

    "By the way...THIS IS A THREE YEAR OLD STORY, THE PLAYERS INVOLVED ARE GONE...The UNIVERSITY HAS SERVED ITS SUSPENION , WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO GO OVER.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Typing in all caps won't make it go away. You do realize that, right?

    As evidenced by all the new information that was just released by the SoS investigation, there is still PLENTY remaining to go over. I don't blame you for being upset. The guilty don't like it much when the police continue investigating.

  • Michael Scott Mar 12, 8:43 a.m.

    Can't believe Baddour said athletes shouldn't use the university email account; they should just use their personal own.

  • unc70 Mar 11, 7:59 p.m.

    If you take public tax money then it becomes public. You want privacy then take no public tax money.

    — Posted by alshomes

    Apparently not in NC. Non-profit private colleges in NC receive State funding proportional to their enrollment of students who are residents of NC. That includes religious affiliated schools, except for those students in divinity school or similar programs. This does not make these schools nor their campus police departments subject to FOI requests.

  • superman Mar 11, 7:59 p.m.

    Thorp should have been fired.

  • charlesboyer Mar 11, 7:47 p.m.

    "WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO GO OVER."

    Ohhhhh, widespread academic fraud to prop up an athletic program paid for by taxpayer money. Nothing major.

  • alshomes Mar 11, 7:33 p.m.

    If you take public tax money then it becomes public. You want privacy then take no public tax money.

  • justabumer Mar 11, 7:04 p.m.

    Have the phone records for the other folks in the room been released?

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