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Larry Brown Sanctioned, But UNC At Least Avoided Making Its Scandal Worse

Brown really, really wanted to coach UNC, but Dick Baddour, who got questioned a lot as UNC's A.D. got this one right.

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Larry Brown is not happy with the NCAA right about now.
Larry Brown is not happy with the NCAA right about now.
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

When you look back over the UNC scandal, there are two events which happened before the scandal broke which are related and should be brought back up now.

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First, when UNC was replacing John Swofford, the committee given the job interviewed Matt Kupec and Dick Baddour.

We remember the Poop Sheet at the time (aka the ACC Area Sports Journal) marveling over how the normally very polite and deferential Dean Smith went after Kupec like a Pit Bull, cutting off his answers before he could finish them. Smith, according to the Poop Sheet, was unbelievably hard on Kupec.

Kupek took the hint and soon withdrew from the search and Baddour got the job.

That's scene #1.

Scene #2 is Larry Brown, complaining that he didn't get a fair interview at UNC, that "[my] interview [with Baddour] was humiliating. The guy just talked about how other people were perfect for the job, and I was too old ... I think for me to get the job, Coach Smith would've had to go to war."

But the famously loyal Smith, who did go to war to keep Kupec out of the A.D.'s chair, didn't go to war for his former player and his first star. Why?

Well, perhaps Tuesday's events in Dallas provide an explanation, at least as far as Brown goes.

The NCAA hit Brown's SMU program with probation and, saying that he lied to the NCAA and didn't report academic fraud promptly, suspended Brown for nine games.

SMU's penalties include nine scholarships docked over the next three years and a ban on post-season play in 2016.

Brown had previously gotten UCLA and Kansas in trouble with the NCAA.

Back to Smith and Kupec: Dean Smith had a well-earned reputation as being sort of omniscient about his former players. He always knew where they were, when births and graduations were coming and when people were in trouble.

So maybe his apparently strong reservations about Kupec should come as no surprise, but still: he left his gentlemanly demeanor behind to ruthlessly grill this guy to keep him from getting the A.D. job at UNC. Why? What did he know at that early date?

It's a fascinating question but we'll probably never know the answer. We do know that Kupec later resigned after questions about his relationship with Tami Hansbrough, mother of former UNC star and noted Swahili scholar Tyler Hansbrough, came to light. This included travel expenses which were later deemed personal rather than professional.

By the way, it's a pleasure to see our old "I Said No To Dean" shirts pop up in the first link above.