CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina coach Butch Davis said Thursday his program needs to do more to monitor what players are doing and who they're associating with following an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct.
"After looking back at it, certainly I'm going to take the responsibility that if there are ways I can help make sure these things don't ever happen again, we're clearly going to (do that) in all the areas," Davis said before an afternoon practice.
The status of 10 players remains in doubt for this weekend's game at Rutgers, including NFL prospects Marvin Austin — who has been suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules — and Robert Quinn on defense, as well as top receiver Greg Little and tailback Ryan Houston. On Wednesday, the NCAA suspended cornerback Kendric Burney for six games and safety Deunta Williams for four for receiving improper benefits tied to several trips.
In addition, Burney's association with former North Carolina and Marshall defensive back Chris Hawkins was an issue. The NCAA ruled Hawkins qualifies as an agent after he paid $1,000 for a jersey from Georgia receiver A.J. Green, who was suspended four games for the transaction.
Hawkins had been around the program in recent years and is a friend of former Tar Heel and NFL running back Willie Parker, though athletic director Dick Baddour has said Hawkins is no longer welcome around the football facility.
Since the NCAA first visited the campus in July, the review has also focused on the close friendship between former assistant coach John Blake and California-based agent Gary Wichard, as well as a cross-country trip taken by Austin and former Tar Heel Cam Thomas to train in California. Thomas said the trip was paid for by former teammate Kentwan Balmer, now with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
Davis said the program will do more to educate players and their families about what NCAA rules about improper benefits, ranging from seminars to simple informational pamphlets.
"Obviously we've got to do a better job," Davis said. "We've got to do more of it. And we're going to do that."
The NCAA is handling the investigation into agent-related benefits, while the school has led the probe into academic issues that are connected to a former tutor whom Davis also hired to tutor his son. While the school has not specified which players are linked to which issues, Baddour said that some of players are involved in both.
Baddour said the school's academic support center decided not to retain the unidentified tutor after the spring 2009 semester because she had become friends with players, which violates the center's policy requiring a professional tutor-student relationship. Davis said Thursday there was no mention of any potential violations or concerns about her conduct after her departure.
The tutor had worked for Davis' family the previous two school years.
"We're not suggesting in any way that anything was inappropriate," Baddour said. "They strongly believe it should be tutor-to-student and it shouldn't blend over to anything else. It wasn't anything specific. It was just in their eyes, it had started to develop into more of a student relationship."