The questions about Phil Ford's future
continue to be asked. Here's
the first media call for Phil Ford's head on a platter.Â The argument
that he has become a public danger is compelling, and the argument that he's a
lousy representative of the University of North Carolina is also worth
discussing, particularly since the school is campaigning against binge drinking among
students and since Dean Smith has campaigned vigorously against alcohol advertising. As the writer says, a .24 on the breathalyzer is fairly
strong evidence and will be hard to defeat.
On the other hand is
the traditional loyalist call for support, this time from Art Chansky.Â
Art might consider extending his generosity to Bill Guthridge, who he seriously
undermined with hisÂ tourney time suggestion that Gut was just keeping the
chair warm for Roy Williams, but too late for that level of loyalty!
And while Chansky understandably calls for support and compassion, he is surprisingly candid about
what Ford's problems are and how they have been handled.
He discusses the wisdom of not informing the AD fully of Ford's Michigan
problem, which begs the question of who really runs things in
Chapel Hill (now really, in fairness - if the AD doesn't know the details of
criminal behavior by his subordinates, how can he in any meaningful way be in
Chansky also claims it's no secret that Ford has separated from his wife
several times and is "reportedly" in serious financial troubleÂ -
things which have been whispered but not discussed openly in the media
previously.Â Maybe it's better to hear this brought up by a member of the
UNC family than the bloodhound the N&O has hired (a DBR prediction: much as
Steve Elling was hated, he'll be missed soon enough by Heels fans), but still not nice to see
your problems in print, we're sure.
He also speculates that were Chancellor Hooker still alive, he would have
used this situation to bring the basketball program to, well, to heel.Â The friction
between Smith and Hooker has been discussed by Chansky, among others,
previously.Â He's probably exactly right on this point.
We didn't read this article carefully enough, frankly, the first time, and it
almost seems like Chansky, while he is supporting his friend, is bracing the
public for more revelations.Â That might happen for all we know. Let's just look at what is
known about Ford's situation so far, including a very brief recent chronology:
- 9/20/97Â Â Â Â Â Â -Â Ford was
stopped by officers on Interstate 75
in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills at 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 20, 1997
and given a DWI with a .26 reading.
- 10/ 8/97Â Â Â Â Â - Dean retires, Guthridge, Ford promoted
to head assistant & chief recruiter
- Unknown Â Â -Â Ford given new car, a 1998 Buick
provided by University, with Virginia. tags.
- Â Recently Â Â -Â www.GoHeels.comÂ claims that Ford
has taken."several unofficial leaves" for rehab
There are a few questions we wish we could ask about this.
- Was the car given to Ford before or after his arrest in Michigan?Â
- If before, did the University consider reclaiming it? Have other
University employees kept University provided vehicles after being convicted
of a DWI? Is there a state or University policy regarding alcohol abuse and state or University supplied
- If after, why did the University give it to him after he got a DWI?
- The car, a 1998 Buick, was "provided" by the University.Â
Was it bought, leased, or dealer-provided?
- If it was dealer provided, who was the dealer, and was the dealer
- To whom is the car registered?
- How did a car provided by the University of North Carolina, to a UNC
employee and NC state resident, get Virginia tags?
- If Ford had several unofficial leaves, was he promoted, and sent out on the
road, with the knowledge that he had an ongoing struggle with alcohol? If so, who was responsible for this decision?
Certainly there's no question he was promoted less than three weeks after
getting the Michigan DWI. - and into a position which in fact requires him
to drive and to drive a lot.
Look, we have no desire to stick it to a guy who is in probably the worst spot
of his life.Â Like everyone, we
hope he can get it back together.Â Having all this in the public eye, for a
guy who has been beloved in this state since he was a magical 18 year old, must
be brutal, and the now-public discussion of his reported marital and
financial problems just adds to the pressure.Â There's a lot of validity
and honor to the
UNC family approach, but if, as Chansky implies, it backfired in this case, it's
not going to help to fire him and throw him out in the street. A lot of people have
talked in recent days about how Ford is a really good person with a really
wicked problem.Â He needs support and help from his friends, to be sure,
and we are sure he's getting it.Â As far as his recovery goes, and his
sobriety, we'd like to think we're all Friends Of Phil.Â However, the
questions we asked are not really directed towards Ford, and the answers would
go a long ways towards clearing things up.