Attorney releases phone records for ex-UNC coach Davis
Posted: September 21, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
RALEIGH, N.C. An attorney has released cellphone records for fired North Carolina football coach Butch Davis to media outlets, saying it should prove "once and for all" that Davis did nothing wrong regarding misconduct by players.
The records were released Friday after a judge's ruling last month that job-related calls Davis made on the phone should be public under state law. That came after media outlets sued for access to the records as they sought information about the NCAA's investigation of the football program. The judge ruled that Davis' personal calls would remain private.
Davis, a Springdale native and former University of Arkansas football player, had said he planned to turn the records over for work-related calls in July 2011, but was fired over the damage done to the university's reputation because of an NCAA investigation into the football program. Davis denied wrongdoing and wasn't cited by the NCAA for a violation when it issued a one-year bowl ban and other sanctions on the football program in March.
The football probe later expanded into concerns about misconduct in an academic department and ultimately helped lead to the resignation of Chancellor Holden Thorp earlier this week.
The phone records, totaling 136 pages, span from March 2009 to November 2010. The school has said outside counsel reviewed Davis' personal cellphone records and found "nothing of concern." Davis had said he wanted to protect the privacy of personal and professional contacts.
"As the NCAA found, and UNC has consistently maintained, Coach Davis did nothing wrong," Jonathan D. Sasser, Davis' attorney, said in a statement. "These phone records should, once and for all, confirm that fact."
The infractions the NCAA cited, including players taking jewelry from outside the program and receiving improper assistance on papers, touched Davis only by occurring on his watch. When he fired Davis, Chancellor Holden Thorp said he didn't believe the coach knew of the violations, including by a tutor who had worked previously with Davis' teenage son and an assistant tied to an NFL agent.
In his statement, Sasser said the records show no calls to late California-based NFL agent Gary Wichard — who was linked to misconduct by former UNC associate head coach John Blake — nor to the chairman of the academic department now linked to years of suspect classes and academic fraud. Sasser said there were five calls to Jennifer Wiley, the tutor who had worked with Davis' teenage son and was later linked to academic violations involving players, with one coming when Wiley contacted Davis after she had been asked to meet with school investigators.
Wiley asked Davis what the meeting was about, who would be present and whether she should bring her father. Davis didn't know the answers, referred her to a school official and believed she would attend the meeting at the end of the call, according to Sasser's statement. Wiley later declined to speak with school or NCAA investigators.
Joseph B. Cheshire V, Wiley's attorney, confirmed Sasser's description of the call Friday.
"She, her father and I made the decision not to talk about these matters," Cheshire wrote in an email. "Coach Davis had nothing to do with that decision."
The media outlets, which include The Associated Press, had argued information on calls involving his duties while a university employee is public record. That coincided with a public-records fight with the university over access to documents and correspondence pertaining to the NCAA probe of improper benefits and academic misconduct.
Davis, the former head coach at Miami and the NFL's Cleveland Browns, is working as a consultant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A school investigation found fraud and poor oversight in 54 classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) between summer 2007 and summer 2011. That included unauthorized grade changes, reports of possibly forged faculty signatures on grade rolls, lack of appropriate supervision and infrequent classes.
The school also found that football players represented 36 percent of enrollments in those classes.