Attorney: Records prove innocence
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.
Friday's release follows a judge's ruling last month that job-related calls Davis made on the phone should be public under state law but his personal calls would remain private. Media outlets, including The Associated Press, had sued for access to the records as they sought information about the NCAA's investigation of the football program.
Davis had said he planned to release records for work-related calls before his firing in July 2011 because of damage done to the university's reputation by the probe. Davis denied wrongdoing and wasn't cited for a violation when the NCAA issued a one-year bowl ban and other sanctions in March.
The football probe later expanded into concerns about misconduct in an academic department and helped lead to this week's resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp, effective after the school year.
The phone records, totaling 136 pages, span from March 2009 to November 2010. The school has said outside counsel reviewed them and found "nothing of concern." Davis had said he wanted to protect the privacy of personal contacts, though at least partial records were included for nearly all calls in what attorney Jonathan D. Sasser described as an effort to be as open as possible.
"As the NCAA found, and UNC has consistently maintained, Coach Davis did nothing wrong," Sasser said in a statement. "These phone records should, once and for all, confirm that fact."
Fourteen Tar Heel players missed at least one game in 2010 and seven were forced to skip the season for a variety of infractions. Some received jewelry from people outside the program. Others received improper benefits for travel to California, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Academic violations centered on players receiving improper assistance on papers -- sometimes for even minor revisions -- from a tutor who had also worked with Davis' teenage son.
The violations, including former assistant coach John Blake's ties to late California-based NFL agent Gary Wichard, touched Davis only by occurring on his watch. When he fired Davis, Thorp said he didn't believe the coach knew of the violations even though it could cost the school $2.7 million in contractual obligations by 2015.
In his statement, Sasser said the records show no calls to Wichard nor the chairman of the UNC department now linked to years of academic fraud and suspect classes with significant athlete enrollments. There were five calls to tutor Jennifer Wiley, the last in August 2010 when Wiley contacted Davis after being asked to meet with school investigators.
Sasser said Wiley asked what the meeting was about and whether she should bring her father. Davis referred her to a school official and believed she'd attend. Wiley later declined to speak with the school or NCAA, and has declined all interview requests.
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 Davises had hired Wiley to work with their son only after receiving a recommendation from a UNC official, according to a copy of a March 2008 email provided to the AP by Davis' wife, Tammy. Tammy Davis defended Wiley as someone motivated by helping others.
"I said it to ... anybody who would listen," she said, "in my heart and in my soul, I don't believe that young lady would do anything intentionally to break rules."
Davis, the former head coach at the University of Miami and the NFL's Cleveland Browns, is working as a consultant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Arkansas alumnus was also an assistant to Jimmy Johnson with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press