Chansky’s Notebook: Larry Brown Does It Again

Thank you, Larry Brown, for showing us what academic fraud really is.

Some people are waiting for me to blast my old friend Larry Brown after his third NCAA probation was announced Tuesday. And I won’t disappoint them. Larry Brown has now coached three major college basketball programs and will have left all of them on probation when he soon departs SMU, like he did UCLA and Kansas.

Of course, Brown denied he intentionally broke rules with those puppy dog eyes, but he is guilty again for the same lack of oversight he demonstrated at UCLA and KU. Both of those schools got in trouble for impermissible benefits to current players, and this time at SMU it was for a player who cheated to get into school as a freshman. Star Mustang Keith Frazier was encouraged to take an on-line correspondence course to gain admission and then a former assistant coach wound up taking the course for him. When Frazier told Brown he never took the course, Brown did not report it. And the NCAA caught Brown in an apparent lie during its interview. There was other stuff, but that’s about the gist of it.

SMU got the stiff penalty that many ABCers hope Carolina Basketball will get this spring, but the SMU case showed there is no comparison between the two. UNC was never accused of cheating in anything, just the debatable charge of academic advisors steering the athletes to crip courses that exist at every school. So Brown unwittingly took one for his alma mater which did not do anything of its kind and Roy Williams’ basketball team will likely get off with very minor sanctions.

Why does trouble follow the 74-year-old Brown wherever he goes, and does not stay for very long? Well, three reasons. One, is he is very passionate about the kids he recruits and coaches and tries to protect them if they get caught breaking any rules. Two, Brown thinks most of the NCAA rules that keep coaches from helping kids are patently absurd. And, three, after coaching nine ABA and NBA franchises over the last 45 years, Brown probably has about 50 million dollars in the bank and, frankly my dear, doesn’t give a damn what the NCAA thinks.

Oh, he will be remorseful after the fact. But, like at UCLA and Kansas, he either doesn’t know or care about the NCAA rules and when he breaks them or finds out someone else did, Brown just shrugs his shoulders as if to say, “It is what it is.” He almost coached at Carolina once, after Roy turned down the job the first time. All those who wanted him here, including me, were convinced he never would have cheated at his old school because he would not have needed to and Dean Smith was still around to make sure he didn’t. But, you know what, he probably would have at UNC because, with L.B. it’s in his D.N.A.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt on SACS, NOA, Silent Sam and more

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt has just started her third academic year at the helm of UNC. She spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about a number of campus-related topics.

You can hear the different segments of the discussion below:

Folt discusses her major priorities for the new year and a self-evaluation of her first two years on the job:


Folt on what she is hearing from the Carolina community in the wake of the ongoing NCAA investigation and accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Folt on the recent spray paintings of Silent Sam and the renaming of Saunders Hall.


Folt on campus issues including underage drinking, sexual assault, and overall campus safety.


Folt on college affordability and accessibility as well as her vision of the future of the university.

UNC Launches New Academic Support Website for Student-Athletes

UNC has launched a new website centered on academic services for student-athletes.

The Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes at UNC announced the new website that offers information regarding all of the academic support services offered to student-athletes at Carolina, according to the ASPSA Director Michelle Brown.

“The website doesn’t change or doesn’t present new services,” she says. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase the services to the prospective families and student athletes, our current students and our faculty members.”

UNC has an estimated 800 student-athletes spanning 28 sports.

Brown has been at UNC for nearly two and a half years. She says that, since the uncovering of the paper-class scandal at UNC, several new programs have been implemented.

“One of the largest, and the newer, services that we offer is the MAP program,” she says, “which is My Academic Plan. It replaces a traditional study hall program.

“My Academic Plan is more of an individualized plan where it takes into consideration the student’s needs.”

Brown adds they are working to continue the support beyond traditional programs.

“We are taking the skills and knowledge from each individual, putting the learning specialist in there and cross training across from academic counselors,” she says, “so that we can understand how a student would need to study and what they might need to focus on.

“We also have some guided study sessions where we then, in the study hall-environment where they will be studying, practice those skills.”

The university’s website says ASPSA “helps student-athletes explore their interests and abilities and provides numerous academic services, including tutoring, secondary academic and career advising, and University and NCAA eligibility.”

Brown says the new website will better showcase the services being provided to current and prospective student-athletes as well as faculty and administrators.

“This is a place where faculty can come to, to see what services we’re providing [and] find out other faculty committees and groups that are there for them,” she says. “One of the premier parts of the website is the place to showcase the students and their academic achievements.”

Brown adds general population students at Carolina are offered similar services as the student-athletes are provided, but the oversight of the students is not as regimented.

Stroman On Sports: A New “Day”

The fall semester begins this week at UNC, and that means the fall sports season is just around the corner. On Monday, sports commentator and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Deb Stroman told WCHL’s Aaron Keck she’s especially looking forward to watching Carolina men’s and women’s soccer take the field; both teams are ranked in the national top 10 this year.

Stroman also shared her thoughts about Jason Day’s PGA Championship victory – officially declaring this the “post-Tiger era” – and the National Labor Relations Board’s decision not to allow Northwestern football players to unionize, a ruling that maintains the status quo in college athletics but is unlikely to quell the ongoing debate.

Listen to their conversation.


Deb Stroman appears on WCHL during “Aaron in the Afternoon” every Monday at 3:30.

No One Scapegoating Hatchell

When the NCAA leveled devastating penalties on the Penn State football program in 2012, the NCAA also declared Penn State football players would be permitted to transfer without the NCAA’s standard transfer restrictions. Onlookers expected a massive exodus of players, but that exodus never happened. Some players left, but the Penn State coaching staff was able to retain most.

The same cannot be said for the UNC women’s basketball staff, and they haven’t even received NCAA penalties yet.

Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell’s contract extends three more years, to 2018. Three other UNC coaches, including women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy, received contract extensions earlier this summer, but Hatchell did not. Her supporters and other commentators have subsequently claimed UNC is denying her an extension because they are scapegoating her for the paper-class scandal.

Yet those supporters and commentators overlook the fact that women’s basketball appears to be losing the entirety of its heralded 2013 recruiting class.

Of the four players from that class, we only know second-hand that one of them chose to leave for reasons related to the scandal. However, having worked with women’s basketball players while I was a learning specialist at UNC, I know that some of them were never quite content at UNC since the assistant coach who recruited them decided to leave before their first year. A number of players never felt as connected to the remaining coaches.

No one from UNC Athletics has blamed Hatchell and her staff for the paper-class scandal, and no one should. Neither Hatchell nor any coach at UNC was involved in creating or perpetuating the paper classes. The argument that UNC is scapegoating Hatchell is both a misguided attempt by her supporters to shame Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham into granting her an extension, and an intellectually dishonest ploy by anti-athletics crusaders who want to see men’s basketball and football take all the blame.

Hatchell deservedly has had former players publicly support her. From what I know of her, she has been an honorable and successful coach for many years. However, the players whose support matters most are those who will be playing for other schools next year.

Earth to Art Chansky: It Wasn’t About the Women

Editor’s note: Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook on July 14th was about UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell. Chansky followed with a longer Art’s Angle on the subject of Coach Hatchell on July 15th. The commentary below is from Mary Willingham and Jay Smith of, and was published to their blog on July 16th, but only in response to the July 14th Sports Notebook. On July 20th, Art Chansky shared his answer to their blog post in a Sports Notebook. Mary Willingham’s commentary can be heard on WCHL in an abbreviated version on July 21st. Below is the full version.

In a recent commentary on WCHL, ardent UNC sports fan Art Chansky revealed his strategy for combating the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations [NOA] against the university’s athletic program: Blame it on the women! Complaining of women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell’s (alleged) behind-the-scenes efforts to lobby for a contract extension comparable to the one recently offered men’s coach Roy Williams, Chansky griped that “an exit strategy should be [Hatchell’s’] play.” After all, Chansky claimed, “Hatchell’s program is in the most serious trouble from the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations,” given the high profile of women’s academic counselor Jan Boxill in the email documentation provided in the NCAA report. The whole NCAA investigation is a “witch hunt” with many victims, Chansky suggested, but the uncomfortable reality for women’s basketball is that “[Roy] Williams’ program was not cited in the NOA and Hatchell’s was.” Hatchell should therefore prepare herself to leave UNC “with grace.”

The propaganda purposes of this particular commentary are obvious even by Chansky’s standards. No team is “cited” in the NOA if by cited one means singled out for likely punishment. As a team and as a program, women’s basketball is cited in the NCAA document no more and no less than any other team or program. (The NCAA’s NOA did note, however, that the “special arrangements” used for eligibility purposes at UNC had particularly benefited “the sports of football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball.”) Chansky, in other words, is only continuing and amplifying the PR drumbeat that Roy Williams, Larry Fedora and others began some weeks ago, presumably at the urging of university lawyers. They have repeatedly announced that the big-time men’s revenue sports would seem to be in the clear and should expect no further punishment from the NCAA. They would have us believe that the NCAA is prepared to give football and men’s basketball a free pass even after the exposure of decades’ worth of fraud that clearly benefited the football and men’s basketball teams. And they are evidently all too happy to point the finger of blame in the direction of a women’s team in order to lower expectations about the sanctions likely to be imposed on the men’s teams.

Leaving aside the gender politics of this shameless PR strategy–will advocates for women’s sports stand by while male coaches, boosters, and UNC insiders labor to persuade the NCAA that the Crowder-Nyang’oro scheme was merely a big plot to help women?–Chansky and company face one very high hurdle in pursuit of their propaganda campaign. A mountain of direct and circumstantial evidence makes clear that UNC’s distinctive pattern of academic fraud was developed specifically to meet the needs of the men’s basketball team, and that the corruption reached its highest levels on Roy Williams’s watch. The first suspect independent study courses offered by Julius Nyang’oro in the late 1980s were offered to men’s basketball players, some of whom had abysmal SAT scores and perilously low GPA’s before they met professor Nyang’oro. Faculty friends in geography, French, and the school of education had been very helpful to the team throughout the 1980s. But when leadership of the AFRI/AFAM department fell into the laps of two allies of men’s basketball around 1990–Nyang’oro and his assistant Debby Crowder, whose close friend Burgess McSwain served as academic counselor for the men in her remote Smith center office–that department quickly became the go-to academic center for struggling (or academically uninterested) men’s basketball players. The fraud would morph into a multi-team and three thousand-student debacle before all was said and done, but men’s basketball was always first in line for favors and fake classes. The needs of men’s basketball always came first in the eyes of Debby Crowder. And the 2005 men’s team, whose roster was stocked with players for whom both McSwain and Crowder felt great sympathy, benefited from unprecedented levels of favoritism. The team as a whole took well over one hundred paper classes; as one would expect, the starters on that team benefited disproportionately from the scam. Star forward Rashad McCants has had the guts to admit this publicly and to show the evidence of the fraud in his own student transcript. His teammates, though quick to denounce him, have kept their transcripts hidden. It is unlikely that anyone else from that team–Sean May, Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams, Reyshawn Terry, Jesse Holley, etc.–will ever step forward with transcripts in hand to have a frank conversation about their classroom experiences. But the truth is in those transcripts.

Chansky, Williams, and the friends of men’s basketball would have the world believe that twenty years of bogus class scheduling was done without the knowledge of anyone actually connected to the men’s basketball program. Coaches (who are paid millions to know everything) supposedly knew nothing. The only academic counselor who was knowingly, inexcusably corrupt, they say, was philosophy instructor Jan Boxill, counselor for the women’s basketball team. This “powerful” figure, they say, corrupted women’s basketball of her own volition. Thankfully, all other counselors were innocent–even if it is unfortunate that they failed to detect the shenanigans of Crowder and Boxill.

The layers of absurdity in this line of argument become hard to distinguish. One might start, however, with the simple fact that Jan Boxill, whatever her flaws, was far more vulnerable than powerful. She was an untenured instructor whose employment at UNC was always partially contingent on her services to the athletic program. She was a highly valuable cog in the machine because of her go-between status and her ability to negotiate academic protocols for counselors who were physically segregated from the main arteries of the campus. But her great value also increased her vulnerability. She was pressured constantly by other personnel in the Academic Support Program to call in favors, to make phone calls, to ask for benefits that were “needed” by athletes with low GPA’s, travel commitments, or other handicaps.

Among the people who leaned heavily on Jan Boxill were the counselors for men’s basketball–first McSwain and then Wayne Walden, Roy Williams’s handpicked deputy who followed him to Chapel Hill from Kansas in 2003. When Roy Williams touts Walden’s ethics, he is not just blowing smoke. Walden was a decent guy who worked within a system that had been built long before he arrived. (Where is he now? Why won’t he and the other counselors step forward to tell their stories?) Walden had a conscience, and he was not happy to have to resort to “paper classes” and wink-wink independent studies courses to help keep certain players afloat. But he also knew what had to be done when push came to shove. Mary Willingham and Wayne Walden spent countless hours together in the old east end zone building talking about how difficult it was to keep challenged players eligible, and how much harder it was to navigate the UNC curriculum in comparison to the Kansas curriculum. (Thank the heavens for Debby Crowder and the few friendly faculty out there…) The course selection process they managed was never about offering players a world-class education; Willingham and Walden worked together–quite often with Boxill’s help, even more often with Crowder’s help–to keep basketball players eligible and in school. They were quite good at it, though Walden was constantly worried about getting Jan or Debby in trouble by asking for favors that would raise red flags. (One reason Boxill had so many emails to be plundered by Kenneth Wainstein and the NCAA: she worked in an office in Caldwell Hall, distant from the ASPSA. Deals, trouble-shooting, and schedule-engineering that were done face-to-face in the ASPSA had to be done through email whenever Boxill was involved. Conveniently for certain other key players in the drama, Boxill’s email was on the main UNC server rather than on the athletic server; her emails could not be expunged.)

Roy Williams has tried to take credit for steering players away from AFAM in 2006-7 (even as he disavows any knowledge of funny business in that department.) But the fact is, the transcripts of the 2009 national championship men’s team look different–with some but far fewer paper classes–only because a new fear of getting caught had set in around 2006. Remember the Auburn scandal and the panic it seems to have caused among ASPSA officials, the Faculty Athletics Committee, and Dean Bobbi Owen (who decreed that the numbers of AFAM independent studies had to be sharply reduced)? The upshot of the Auburn scandal, in the UNC men’s basketball program, was a new caution about cheating. The large-scale, team-wide stuff had to end. Paper classes, Walden decided, should be used only for the athletes who desperately needed them – such as the one guy who “couldn’t read very well.” That particular player, whose needs forged a particularly close relationship between Walden and Willingham (a reading specialist), took between ten and twelve paper classes. That figure–compiled in the years after Roy Williams claims that he cleaned up the basketball program–is significantly higher than the number of paper classes ever taken by ANY women’s basketball player. The number of AFAM majors on the men’s basketball team may have dropped off after 2005, but the need for paper classes remained (for both current and former players), and men’s basketball stayed at the front of the line at least through 2008.

Art Chansky and company are desperately trying to persuade the NCAA and the public at large that UNC’s course fraud scam was all about helping the women’s basketball team. Chansky urges Sylvia Hatchell to play sacrificial lamb for a UNC athletic department that benefited broadly and egregiously from academic fraud that unfolded over twenty years. The NCAA has all the emails, with all the unredacted names, and so one can assume that the Committee on Infractions will be able to hold up against the propaganda winds. But regardless of what the NCAA does or does not do, people of good conscience in and around UNC must not allow the dreams of Chansky, Williams, and Fedora to come true. Collective amnesia is not an option in Chapel Hill. Owning the reality of the scandal is important because only after accepting the true dynamic of the academic-athletic scandal–only after Tar Heels have come to terms with the fact that our love of men’s basketball and our passionate commitment to winning fostered an uncontrollably corrupt academic environment here–will the institution be able to move on with open eyes, a clean conscience, and a healthy plan for the future.

Chansky asks Hatchell to leave with “grace.” But grace has never been about willful blindness, nor should it be about taking one for the team. “Was blind but now I see,” goes the beloved lyric. Those touched by grace are not asked to go into exile; they are reconciled to a higher power and beckoned to a welcoming place (“grace will lead me home.”). Asking Sylvia Hatchell to go away is not the answer to UNC’s disgrace. The institution should instead be asking for its own gift of grace—the gift of clear-sighted reconciliation with the sins of its past.

Chansky’s Notebook: Planetary Response

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

Earth to Jay and Mary.

Well, I see that Jay Smith and Mary Willingham used my column on Sylvia Hatchell as another excuse to rehash the entire academic scandal on their website, which has about as many readers as their convoluted tell-all book. They claim I say Sylvia should leave with grace because I am in a plot with Roy Williams, Larry Fedora and the rest of the athletic administration to turn the attention away from men’s basketball and football.

Well, Earth to Jay and Mary. Did you bother reading the rest of the column past the truth that women’s basketball is likely to get hit by the NCAA harder than any other program? All the experts who have studied the NOA in its detailed entirety have come to the same conclusion. But there are two other major reasons I believe Hatchell’s tenure at UNC will end sooner than later. One is using her friends to speak out against not getting a contract extension from Bubba Cunningham, and the other is that women’s basketball spends and loses way too much money.

Hatchell has three more years left on her lucrative long-term deal, foolishly given to her by Dick Baddour on his way out the door as AD. And she is in the cross hairs of the NCAA probe, much more so than Williams and Fedora, despite what Jay and Mary would have you believe. She does not deserve, or frankly need, an extension right now, and should have worked behind the scenes trying to convince Bubba otherwise. And if she failed, she still could have gone out with grace.

There is no way any program will be allowed to lose $2.5 million moving forward. That is fiscally irresponsible, and Cunningham’s job is to fix it. Hatchell’s program also has the highest cost-per-athlete among all woman sports. Taking the fight public and any NCAA sanctions will only hasten her departure.

Jay and Mary believe there was an 18-year covert scheme to keep athletes eligible here, and in propagating that ridiculous theory continue to demonstrate how little they know about major Division 1 athletics, and a minute percentage of underprepared recruits that every school admits to stay competitive. Did Carolina cross some lines that it will pay dearly for when the NCAA metes out penalties? Yes. But is it as widespread and anywhere close to the story they have spun that has done major damage to a great university’s brand and reputation? It’s not about the truth anymore for them. It’s far more about winning their argument.

Art’s Angle: Hatchell Should Go Gracefully

Hiring Sylvia Crawley as an assistant coach is the right play for Sylvia Hatchell. Getting her friends and colleagues in the university to lobby for an extension to her contract is the wrong play.

Crawley, a star player and captain of the 1994 Tar Heels, will be seen by many people as Hatchell’s successor after she resigns following the 2016 season or is fired. Hatchell cannot survive as the Carolina coach for reasons that go beyond her program’s complicity in the NCAA allegations.

That first. Her support group calling women’s basketball a “sacrificial lamb” is ill-advised, some would say stupid. Anyone who reads the Notice of Allegations can see where Hatchell’s program is cited through the actions of former academic advisor Jan Boxill, the long-respected faculty member who was fired for her role in the AFAM scandal. Beyond the substantial fine the university will receive for a “lack of institutional control,” women’s basketball is the sport most likely to be penalized. One of the five allegations is entirely devoted to emails between Boxill and the AFAM department.  If so, Hatchell will be held accountable as the CEO of the program.

Just as Butch Davis was fired for, among other things, violating his contract by hiring a coach (John Blake) who broke NCAA rules. UNC firing Davis “without cause” and paying him the balance of his contract worth between $11 and 12 million seemed foolish, but the university did not want to invest the time and legal fees to defend a prolonged lawsuit that Davis surely would have filed. Any Carolina coach whose program breaks NCAA rules, including Roy Williams, should be and would be fired.

Second, the collateral damage from the NCAA probe that has injured almost every Tar Heel sports team in recruiting has just about killed women’s hoops. Hatchell has lost the No. 1 recruiting class of 2013 — from Diamond DeShields transferring to Tennessee after her All-ACC freshman season to Jessica Washington, Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga leaving this summer. Only Gray acknowledged that the stigma of the NCAA investigation caused her departure, but surely Washington and Mavunga feel the same way. These women worry that their association with a tainted team will hurt their professional careers, in and out of basketball, moving forward.

Clearly, Hatchell’s program has become fatally flawed and a change must be made to start over. Hatchell is a Hall of Fame coach who has won a national championship (1994) and more than 900 games. She also won her courageous battle against Leukemia that kept her off the bench during the 2014 season. She has been a great representative of the university until the NCAA revelations that have divided the campus and caused fractures in the athletic department itself.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham must negotiate an athletic program, 98 percent of which still operates and succeeds at the highest level, through the awful hand he was dealt when he took over for Dick Baddour in November of 2011. Aware he was inheriting the three-year probation in football for impermissible benefits during the Davis era, Cunningham said recently that he had not heard the acronym “AFAM” until a few months into his job.

The Rams Club continues to raise money at record levels, proving an angry alumni and fan base has not deserted the program, but by charter can only pay for scholarships and capital improvements. Cunningham is stuck with about an $80 million operating budget with most of its revenue streams maxed out. Sure, UNC gets an occasional windfall from additional post-season payouts from the ACC, but not enough to increase salaries and recruiting budgets for all but two of UNC’s 28 sports that do not make money.

When revenues are flat, expenses need to be cut. Cunningham and UNC are committed, for now, to a broad-based program driven by participation for as many varsity athletes as possible. But that will have to change one day. Current Title IX guidelines dictate any sport cut will be on the men’s side, and Cunningham has an opportunity to start by dropping the struggling wrestling program after he recently fired veteran coach and former Tar Heel All-American C.D. Mock. Wrestling gives out all 9.9 scholarships allowed by the NCAA, so that could save some money for the Rams Club. Also, coaches’ salaries and recruiting and travel costs would be eliminated from Bubba’s budget. Wrestling could still be offered as a club sport, where UNC’s program is among the biggest and most successful in the country.

Women’s basketball loses more money than any sport at Carolina. Hatchell earns about a million dollars from her state salary, stipends and her successful summer camp. The team draws sparse crowds to revamped Carmichael Arena, employs eight assistant coaches or support personnel and has significant recruiting and travel budgets. UNC has a “cost per athlete” metric computed by revenues versus  expenses divided by the number of players on a team. While losing about $2.5 million a year, Hatchell’s program has the highest cost-per-athlete of all women sports and one of the highest of all 28 teams.

Surely, UNC can play competitive women’s basketball for half the cost. The money saved could be spread across all other women’s sports, increasing subpar coaching salaries and recruiting budgets in most of them. It is truly amazing that Carolina athletics continues to finish high in the Learfield Director’s Cup (fifth in 2014-15) with an operating budget far behind schools like Stanford, Ohio State and Texas.

Changes are on the way. They need to include women’s basketball where, after one season as Hatchell’s well-traveled and accomplished assistant, Crawley becomes the new face of the program. She has already held three head-coaching positions and is respected in the profession. Her charge would be to rebuild the Lady Tar Heels for less than what it has cost UNC, monetarily and otherwise, under Hatchell.

UNC Hires Crawley As Assistant Coach For Women’s Basketball

Sylvia Crawley will return to her alma mater to serve as an assistant coach for the UNC Women’s Basketball team.

During her years as a player at UNC, Crawley competed in 124 games, making 101 starts. She compiled 1,158 points, 582 rebounds, 123 blocks and 90 steals. She ranks ninth on the UNC career charts in both blocks and field goal percentage.

Crawley was the captain and coaches finals MVP of the NCAA Championship team back in 1994.

She spent more than a decade playing professionally before becoming head coach, first at Ohio University, then at Boston College. She owns a 105-88 career record spanning six seasons.

Most recently, Crawley was an assistant coach with the Indiana Fever of the WNBA in 2014.

In a press release, Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell says Crawley’s return is a “tremendous hire” for the women’s basketball program.

“Sylvia is a former ACC head coach and a true Tar Heel,” says Hatchell. “She will be a wonderful addition to our staff and will assist us tremendously with recruiting and all facets of our program. A wonderful person, coach and one of my girls. We’re excited to welcome her back!”

Chansky’s Notebook: Hatchell’s Play Wrong

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

Sylvia Hatchell is making a bad situation worse.

Women’s Hall of Fame basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is garnering public support for a contract extension,  similar to those awarded to Roy Williams, women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy and women’s tennis coach Brian Kalbass.

There are several reasons why this is a bad move by Hatchell, who should be working behind the scenes to keep her job instead of comparing her plight to three coaches who deserved their contracts to be extended when she did not.

Hatchell’s program is in the most serious trouble from the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations in May. She may not have known anything about the lines that former academic advisor Jan Boxill crossed, but as the CEO Hatchell is ultimately responsible. Just as Butch Davis was and just as Roy Williams would be if his program were hit hard by the NCAA.

Her supporters are calling Hatchell and women’s hoops sacrificial lambs in the NCAA investigation that will lead to some sanctions for the university for lack of institutional control in the AFAM scandal. But, based on the allegations, Hatchell’s program is very likely to receive its own penalties. Until that is determined, a contract extension is last thing she should get. An exit strategy should be her play.

Hatchell doesn’t have a strong enough case to be marshaling her forces against a new chancellor and new athletic director who did not hire her and, very likely, will fire her if women’s basketball draws probation and/or penalties. She’s had a great career, won a national championship, more than 900 games and, most importantly, her fight against Leukemia. If she goes out, it should be with grace.

In some ways, she IS a victim of an NCAA witch hunt that UNC is fighting with millions of dollars in legal fees. Williams got an extension because he is underpaid compared to his peers and he needs a public vote of confidence to help his recruiting that has taken a beating the last two years. And the biggest difference:  Williams’ program was not cited in the NOA.  Hatchell’s was.

That’s why a planned response would be better than firing off guns against a target that cannot, and should not, help her until the verdict and sentences are in.