Thursday night's UNC press conference featured a worse-for-the-wear Butch Davis, a somewhat exasperated Dick Baddour and a frustrated-looking Holden Thorp, all discussing the "widening" of the investigation into the football program at Chapel Hill.
Their outwardly expressed emotions are understandable: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has long had a sterling academic reputation, and the latest probe by the NCAA is unsettling to say the least.
|Kendric Burney might not play for the Tar Heels in the future. (US Presswire)|
Thorp's presence at the news conference may indicate just that -- as does the reported movement of the majority of defensive starters to Carolina's scout team during recent practices.
As Baddour said, Carolina is "not at the end of the investigation" -- they're "somewhere near the middle or the beginning of it."
But one thing is crystal clear: Carolina is dealing with a problematic case of "academic issues" within the football team that could/will/has threatened several of the players' ability to remain on the team.
In fact, we earlier reported that two cornerbacks, Charles Brown and Kendric Burney, had already been kicked off the team, and two sources close to the athletic department firmly believe they will not be a part of the team in the future.
A spokesman from North Carolina has since denied the report that Brown and Burney were kicked off the team and Burney has even tweeted that he's excited for practice tomorrow.
Baddour made it seem, though, that Carolina has made up their mind on some issues.
"Many of those decisions [as to what players are available] have not been made," Baddour said. "They're two prongs [to the investigation] and they're ongoing and we're working as hard as we can with the NCAA to bring those things into resolution."
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Baddour and Thorp's comments, coupled with the intensely delicate nature of the situation facing Carolina, certainly leaves open the possibility -- even the university had previously made up its mind about punishing certain individuals -- of an evolving timeline.
That's how these things works, though: even the "self-reporting" nature of the "academic issues" is bizarre.
Baddour acknowledged that the university "learned about [the issues] through the interview process with a student-athlete" -- an interview process that he also acknowledged to be "joint" with the NCAA.
If NCAA officials were also present when Chapel Hill officials learned of the academic issues, the term "self-reporting" just seems odd.
It's clear though that Carolina has made some decisions and they do believe certain members of the team are in violation of some form of university policy -- otherwise they wouldn't have decided to bring all of this information to light vis-a-vis a press conference and follow-up Q&A session with the media.
But the depth of the investigation could mean that Carolina is forced to continually evolve that timeline over the next nine days leading up to their season opener against LSU -- something Baddour mentioned when he pointed out that "the review will likely extend beyond the start of the season."