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UNC Explains Davis Firing; Athletic Director Stepping Down

At a press conference today in Chapel Hill, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp explained his decision to fire the head football coach five weeks before the start of the season. The school's athletic director also announced that he's stepping down. North Carolina's football program has lived in the shadows of scandal for the past 11 months. Players have been accused of receiving improper benefits and cheating on their school work. Initially, the chancellor stood by his coach. But over the last few weeks, Thorp says his mind began to change. "I made the decision in the fall that I was going to support Coach Davis and his efforts to involve the football program," Thorp said. "But I can no longer overlook the fact that what started as a purely athletic issue has slowly begun to chip away at this university's integrity. I cannot stand for that." Thorp admitted that his timing in firing Davis is not good. In fact, he called it "terrible." The football team starts fall practices next week. Meanwhile, the school is interviewing interim coaching candidates this afternoon. Athletic Director Dick Baddour laid out a timetable for hiring a permanent replacement, and in the process, announced his own resignation. "I know that it is even more imperative that my successor be able to name the permanent head coach," Baddour said. "Therefore, I have asked Chancellor Thorp to begin the search for an athletic director as soon as possible." Thorp says the athletic department is prepared to pay Davis the $2.7 million remaining on his contract, since Davis was fired without cause, according to the terms of that contract.