Holden Thorp, and his wife Patti, have been personal friends of mine for 5+ years thru thick and thin and lots of yucky sludge. I’ve never been “friends” with a for-real chancellor before. I have no frame of reference to say if being friends with a chancellor is always as bumpy a ride as the past 2+ years with Holden have been.
Times abeing what they are I assume “friends with a chancellor” is not unlike being friends with a public school superintendent or a major college FB or BkB coach who has lost 2-3 games in a row. In other words one has the “Peter In The Garden” Option – Sure, I could deny my friendship three times before the cock crows if I want to. I don’t want to.
Holden’s announcement yesterday that he will step down as UNC Chancellor effective next June is, in my opinion, the best possible solution for all concerned. No, I was not part of the war room council that arrived at that solution. Actually there was no war room council.
Holden came to that decision and informed the appropriate parties on Sunday. It is my understanding from a brief chat with one of those parties that they did indeed try, unsuccessfully, to change his mind.
Sunday afternoon Blondie and I were discussing WSHD (What Should Holden Do) and I described EXACTLY the scenario that is now in place. It is thru such happenstance that legend status thrives. Her expression Monday when the announcement was made was akin to “Kid’s” at age three when I played “got your nose”. As a daddy and husband (and Internet provocateur) I’d much rather be lucky than smart any time.
Holden Thorp for all his CEO naivete and for all his misplaced trust, and for all his zigs when he shoulda zagged deserves better that the crown of thorns he wears now. But such is Real Life in the high profile / high stakes biz of public university chancelloring. “Fair” is a day in June and a maiden’s smile.
I say “deserves better” because it was never his intention to perpetrate malfeasance, to deceive, to run a scam, et al. Yes, those things happened and they happened “on his watch” and he now accepts the consequences of being UNC’s Chancellor whilest they were uncovered. I am a firm believer in “watch” accountability. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly….. if they occur “on your watch” it goes on your ledger. The Ledger of Holden Thorp’s Chancellorship will forever reflect that.
Holden trusted two individuals – Dickie Baddour and Matt Kupec. The former was a complete and utter “putz”. The latter fell victim to man’s most diabolical malady. To quote history’s most famous Julius —- “et tu Dickie …. et tu Matt?”
That Holden inherited a complete & utter putz as his AD is not his fault. That he failed to realize his AD was a complete & utter putz IS poor judgement as a CEO. Lord knows enough people tried to tell him including yours truly.
That Holden tried to finesse the Matt & Tami Mess was also poor CEO judgement. That was a guaranteed train wreck the moment “that woman” was put on the UNC payroll. Holden and Matt are big boys and shoulda each known better in their respective roles. FWIW, I never got involved in that one.
In the public university chancelloring version of Russian Roulette its, at most, one empty cylinder and five hollow points. Holden mighta hit the empty cylinder with either the putz or the horn dog but no way he was going to survive both.
(I suppose “the putz or the horn dog” is going to be THE line out of this)
I do believe if “a Bubba Cunningham” had been brought in as AD three years ago he woulda quickly figured out the scam that Julius & Deborah were running in cahoots with yet-unnamed folks on the athletic academic support staff. “A Bubba” would shut down the other flim flams that Butch/Blake had in place. But UNC had the putz, not Bubba, and here we are. …… ahhhh what mighta been.
Blame the media ? Nope. Dealing with a hostile media is a key skill in big boy chancelloring. Again, Holden did not get the best of advice in media relations and/or chose to create an adversarial relationship early on. Having good advisors and a spider sense of how to best incorporate their advice separates current chancellors from former chancellors.
Blame rival fans ? Nope. There is no Geneva Convention in sports rival warfare. (the 2nd best line in this?) We’da done it to them if the situation had been reversed…. and if it ever is I guarantee you “we” will. It is a very silly blood sport but it IS a blood sport.
Blame the blood-thirsty lynch mob ? Nope again. If a big boy chancellor cannot navigate thru a scraggly buncha cross-eyed maggots on the Internet he’d best retire to the chemistry lab.
Every chancellor, every coach, every AD, every public official, every politician HAS to deal with “the Internet mob”. Sure, 92% of that raging rabble are the clods you don’t make eye contact with on elevators….. the low-achieving loser bottom-feeders in Life’s trough. But its 2012 and they all have Wi-Fi and a keyboard. There are plenty of anonymous mosh pit soap boxes such sad souls can use to rage into the cyber mist. Is it “fair”? Refer to definition of “fair” above.
My friends, Holden & Patti Thorp will, in time, be just fine. They will return to just being “The Thorps”. Yes, there will be stage whispers and gossipy neighbors just as there will always be Internet vermin and dung beetles.
UNC will now set about cleaning up “its brand” whatever that means. If there is more crap to float to the top, it will float to the top and be dealt with in some fashion. Despite the sneers from the peanuts in the gallery, the “value of a UNC diploma” is no more or less than it ever was whatever that stoopid phrase means. UNC will continue to receive far more applications than it can accept. It will continue to graduate scholars and lots of just regular kids. Franklin Street remains “quaint” and a % of the alumni / fans will be as arrogant as they ever were (refer back to that line about dung beetles, etc).
And, of course, while a few might actually have heard about all this…… 99.76% of those 8,000,000,000 Chinese still don’t care.