Boosters, those deep-pocketed, foul smelling would-be gladiator owners, can’t be happy about what is going down at University of North Carolina. In the wake of head football coach Butch Davis’ dismissal yesterday, athletic director Dick Baddour today announced that his own contract would not be renewed. Moreover, even though it was the right thing to do inasmuch as academic impropriety was involved, the grand football program shake-down brings major negative financial implications for UNC.
A coach is a coach is a coach, you say, and an athletic director is but a figurehead in the overall scheme of NCAA Division I semi-pro college football. It is a fancy high wire act they play, skirting the rules until they either get caught or safely move up to the real pros in the NFL.
But if they stay around long enough to put their brand on a program — and for Davis and Baddour, five years was more than enough — there is a lot more at stake than conducting a national search or two for replacements. The booster buddies they’ve made are not so easily replaced, particularly in a state in which just about everyone has a better football reputation than UNC, whose program uncharacteristically thrived under Davis. Commitments were made to these people, including a massive stadium expansion colloquially named “The House That Butch Built”, on which the university will have to make good in spite of the uncertainty in the future. And we haven’t even touched upon Davis’ $2.7 million contract buyout.
Sports Illustrated dug in and grabbed the story here.