Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chancellor HOLDEN THORP, "beleaguered by two years of athletics-related scandals, will resign the position at the end of the academic year and return to a role that he always loved: chemistry professor,” according to Jane Stancill of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Thorp said that “no one asked him to resign.” He said, “It’s been a tough couple of years. I’ve been through a lot of things I didn’t imagine I’d have to go through.” Stancill notes the reaction on campus “was mixed, but many expressed sadness that the athletic mess had claimed a brilliant academic leader who struggled to manage it all” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/18). In Raleigh, Dan Kane writes the “athletics-related distractions didn’t end” after firing football coach BUTCH DAVIS following an NCAA investigation, that "found agents offering perks to players and a tutor fixing up their papers." An "academic fraud scandal" followed and “last week, a travel scandal emerged that raised much deeper questions about how beholden UNC-CH had become to big-time college sports.” Thorp “struggled to balance the competing demands of academics with a major athletics program” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/18). Also in Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes the “football scandal at North Carolina … claimed another victim” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/18). The NEWS & OBSERVER’s Andrew Carter notes the athletic department during Thorp's tenure “experienced unprecedented strife” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/18). In Raleigh, Caulton Tudor writes there is “a case to be argued that Thorp’s remaining time as chancellor might best be served by visiting each college chief executive officer in the land with a warning about what can happen when an athletics program gets ... out of hand” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/18).
People and Pop Culture
Fourteen current and five former speed skaters on Aug. 30 “filed a grievance against U.S. Speedskating” accusing coach JAE SU CHUN and two of his assistants "of verbal, physical and psychological abuse,” according to Amy Donaldson of the DESERET NEWS. Chun “issued a statement defending himself and his fellow coaches,” but hours later, the U.S. Speedskating BOD “voted to place him on administrative leave pending the outcome” of an investigation of the allegations by the law firm of White and Case (DESERET NEWS, 9/18). The athletes' attorney EDWARD G. WILLIAMS said, "They will end their careers rather than skate under these coaches." USA TODAY's Erik Brady notes Chun is accused of "slamming an athlete into a wall" and calling one female athlete a "fat cow" (USA TODAY, 9/18). The AP's Paul Newberry reported the USOC is “also looking into the matter, which comes less than 18 months before the next Winter Games” in Sochi and “threatens to disrupt a program that has long produced a steady stream of medals for the Americans despite persistent financial problems” (AP, 9/17).
SWIMMING COACH ACCUSED: A lawsuit alleges former U.S. Olympic swimming coach MARK SCHUBERT, while U.S. national team director and later at Golden West Swim Club, “repeatedly ignored and dismissed complaints of inappropriate behavior toward young female swimmers" by longtime Orange County swim coach BILL JEWELL. USA Swimming officials said that there would be “further response to the allegations” today (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/18).
Online sports and leisure retailer Netshoes named former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE to its BOD. Tagliabue will also serve as the company’s global ambassador (Netshoes)....Havas Sports & Entertainment named MARIA GAVRILOVA Managing Dir its new Moscow office (Havas Sports & Entertainment)….Grand Canyon Univ. named Vikings VP/Legal Affairs & Chief Administrative Officer KEVIN WARREN to its BOD (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/17)….The World Anti-Doping Agency named Canadian IOC rep BECKIE SCOTT to its Exec BOD (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/18)….The Warriors hired former Oakland Planning Commission Vice Chair DOUG BOXER as a consultant. Boxer is the son of U.S. Senator BARBARA BOXER (D-Calif.). He will “help the team’s arena plans navigate a thicket of government agencies" that include the State Lands Commission and S.F. Bay Conservation & Development Commission (S.F. BUSINESS TIMES, 9/14 issue).
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Snowboarder SHAUN WHITE “faces charges of public intoxication and vandalism, accused of drunkenly destroying a phone at a Nashville hotel and ending up in the hospital after he hit his head.” Police "responded to the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel at 2 a.m. Sunday after a man identified as the 26-year-old White pulled a fire alarm, forcing the hotel to evacuate all guests." A hotel employee also "reported seeing White destroy a hotel phone." White “tried to leave the hotel in a cab before being stopped by a hotel guest who told the driver police had been called.” Police said that White “kicked at the man before running away.” The man "chased him and they collided when White turned around.” Police said that White then “fell back and hit his head against a fence” (ESPN.com, 9/17).
COURT REPORT: Former Fiesta Bowl COO NATALIE WISNESKI yesterday was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years' probation “after admitting her participation in an illegal campaign-finance scheme that enveloped in scandal one of college football's signature post-season events.” Wisneski “pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge” but was “spared jail time because she helped federal and state prosecutors build cases against other current and former Fiesta Bowl employees” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/18).
GAME CRASHERS: Actors VINCE VAUGHN and OWEN WILSON at Sunday's Lions-49ers game “wore 49ers gear” on the team’s sideline. 49ers coach JIM HARBAUGH is “holding out hope two other notable figures will visit his team: MUHAMMAD ALI and WILLIE MAYS.” Harbaugh said of connecting with Mays, "We've been working on it" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/18).
NAMES: SI Senior Editor KOSTYA KENNEDY will author a biography of former MLBer PETE ROSE. The book’s release is slated for ’14, 25 years after Rose was banned from baseball for life for gambling (SI)….Former broadcaster BILLY PACKER is “planning a 240-unit apartment complex at the Catawba River Plantation neighborhood in northwest Charlotte.” Packer is “a partner in a limited liability company called C River, which owns the 20-acre site” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/14 issue)….Family and friends, “including a few well-known folks from the world of sports,” gathered at The Four’s restaurant to toast the retirement of Boston Globe sportswriter BOB RYAN. Guests included former NBA player and GM WAYNE EMBRY and Maple Leafs President & GM BRIAN BURKE, "who picked up much of the tab for the evening" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/18)….Magic F GLEN DAVIS has retained Raleigh-based agency French/West/Vaughan as his marketing, PR and endorsements agency (NEWSOBSERVER.com, 9/17).