Holden Thorp stands by Butch Davis

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp is again publicly supporting coach Butch Davis amid an NCAA investigation into the school's football program.

In comments to UNC system administrators, Thorp said Thursday there is no evidence that Davis was aware of or involved in any of the issues that brought NCAA investigators to campus.

"A lot of people have looked for a long time, and no one's found anything that makes me think Butch shouldn't be the coach," Thorp said in a phone interview afterward.

Thorp and athletic director Dick Baddour have been publicly supportive of Davis throughout the investigation, which was initially focused on agent-related benefits but expanded to include possible academic violations. That also led to a probe by the North Carolina Secretary of State's office on whether the state's sports agent laws were broken.

Thorp said 60 student-athletes have been interviewed so far, with the NCAA visiting campus six times and the Secretary of State's office visiting twice.

"We're all asking ourselves: What could we have done to have caught this sooner?" Thorp said. "That's critically important in making sure this doesn't happen again. I know it's a really hot question on people's minds whether we have found anything that showed Coach Davis knew anything about this, and we haven't."

The Tar Heels (5-3) opened the season against LSU with 13 players sidelined due to the probe. Six players won't play this season, including three who were either dismissed from the team or ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA.

Five players have returned to game action after missing time, while a sixth was cleared to return but will likely redshirt.

Defensive lineman Michael McAdoo is the only player from the LSU group whose status is still in question. He hasn't played this season. Fullback Devon Ramsay played four games before the school decided to hold him out. He hasn't played since.

Davis, speaking with reporters before Thursday's practice, said he hoped the investigation wouldn't tarnish his career.

"I've put a lot of importance in my coaching career on doing the right things, to emphasize graduation with the athletes, to recruit ethically, to have coaches on our coaching staff who are good people and people who care about kids," Davis said. "All I can do is every day do the best job that I possibly can.

"I love working here. It's been a great situation and I'm looking forward to many more years in the future."