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Amy Herman Needs New Business Cards Which Really Pisses Brett Friedlander Off

Earlier this week, UNC announced Amy Herman, assistant athletic director of compliance would receive a promotion to associate AD of compliance beginning on February 1st. The news release indicated Ms. Herman’s responsibilities would roughly be the same crap she has been doing only she is an associate AD instead of an assistant AD. In other words she needs to order new business cards. For that reason and many other illogical ones, Brett Friedlander of the Wilmington Star felt this warranted some patented newspaper columnist outrage.

The blurb reports the promotion of Amy Herman from assistant athletic director for compliance to associate athletic director for compliance, effective Feb. 1. Herman has been with the UNC athletic department for 11 years and, for all I know, is good at what she does.

But does anybody else find it troubling that the athletic department is promoting its top compliance officer at a time in which it is being investigated for multiple instances in which it did not comply with NCAA rules?

What’s next, bringing in Bernie Madoff to become the new fundraising director for the Ram’s Club?

Well, for me to find it “troubling” I would have to know the extent of Ms. Herman’s role in the compliance issues which have plagued UNC. For example did she fail to do her job? Did she provide inaccurate information to Deunta Williams or Kendric Burney or Robert Quinn which led to their violations? Did she lie to the NCAA or fail to follow compliance procedures? Was she in charge of the money drops to Jennifer Wiley in the Rams Head Parking Deck at 3 AM every Thursday morning? In other words, I don’t have enough facts to determine whether or not Amy Herman’s was incompetent as it relates to the current scandal. I do know UNC has been cited as being in compliance by the NCAA during Ms. Herman’s tenure. I know that until this year UNC only had a minor secondary violation or two to address. From that we can assume she has done a good job. That is not to say the promotion does not look odd since you are promoting a compliance officer while a major compliance issue is being sorted out. That being said, I don’t think it is that simple. I do think that hiring Bernie Madoff to handle any kind of money would be profoundly stupid since he has been convicted on multiple Federal crimes. As far as I know and Brett knows, Ms. Herman is good at what she does and not under Federal indictment so I am yet to be convinced this move is “troubling.”

UNC’s compliance office has done such an “outstanding job” that 14 members of the Tar Heel football team were held out of at least one game this season because of major NCAA violations involving either improper benefits from agents or academic misconduct.

Many of those players, including stars Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn and Greg Little, were ruled permanently ineligible. As a result, the program faces severe penalties including though not limited to the loss of schoarships, vacating wins and NCAA probation.

Ah! There we go! The application of the very broad “14 players held out” brush! It is amazing how much these opinion columnists love to trot that one out. Why bother with the details when you can toss a fat number around and at the same time soil the names of Shaun Draughn and Da’Norris Searcy in the process. Tell me Brett, what major NCAA violations did either of those two commit? How about Ryan Houston? Linwan Euwell? They were both cleared by the honor court. In the case of Jonathan Smith, Charles Brown and Brian Gupton the honor court penalized them with probation. As a result they could not represent UNC and took a redshirt this season. Based on the information I have seen, half of the 14 players held out of games “because of major NCAA violations involving either improper benefits from agents or academic misconduct” were not involved in any NCAA violations. Draughn and Searcy did nothing wrong. Houston and Euwell were cleared by the honor court. The other three individuals had strictly academic issues handled internally by UNC. Yes, there are still seven other players with true NCAA issues but let’s stop painting with a broad brush.

It should also be noted that the very fact UNC held players out, even two who did nothing wrong means they are actually engaging in proper compliance to a fault. Searcy sat three games for doing nothing wrong. Holding players out, even if it is 14 of them, is a sign you are addressing compliance issues the proper way versus say, Auburn, who played Cam Newton week in and week out consequences be damned. UNC could have easily said “screw it!’ and played everyone but they didn’t which ought to count for something.

It would seem to me that bringing in someone from the outside to fix a compliance system that clearly failed might have been a more appropriate solution than promoting someone from within.

Maybe, if there was evidence that the compliance system “clearly failed.” I know the response to that, “What? Of course it failed! Look at the violations that occurred!” True, and I am not saying UNC does not have issues to fix but to quote Jean-Luc Picard, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.” A security director for a company can have all the right procedures and technology in place but still not stop an employee from using his access to either steal or allow someone else to steal laptops from the offices. However, the procedures and technology can ensure the perpetrators are caught and punished. In other words, there is no guard against people you trust screwing you over.

You can have the greatest compliance office in the world and still not stop players from being monumentally stupid. In the case of the five players who were suspended or declared ineligible for taking improper benefits, there was nothing to stop these players from making bad choices. In the case of Deunta Williams and in part Kendric Burney it was the draconian nature of NCAA rules that tripped them up. As for the other three, they were just stupid. When it came to UNC’s attention, it was handled according to procedure, the guilty were punished and the 2010 season was unaffected by the use of ineligible players. Yes the system might need improving but that is not to say it did not work for the most part. Besides that, the NCAA has yet to make a ruling or release the facts of the case so without that we can not make a definitive assertion that the compliance system “clearly failed.” You probably want the NCAA telling you to rebuild your compliance office from the ground up before actually doing so.

But at least UNC is consistent.

Promoting the person in charge of athletic compliance under such circumstances ranks right up there with letting Butch Davis continue coaching the football team even after his blind eye helped create a culture in which NCAA rules were blatantly ignored by his best players and most trusted staff members.

It’s called a lack of institutional control. Apparently though, UNC still doesn’t get it.


Congratulations Brett! You just said the magic ABCer phrase! For your use of “lack of instituional control” you will receive elevated status among ABCer blogs and message boards….well until you write something unflattering about them then they will condemn you as a hack and part of the Grand UNC Media Conspiracy. Until then enjoy!

Actually the paragraph before is the real gem. You see Brett has an advanced copy of the NCAA’s final report which obviously says Butch Davis was fostering a culture of lax attentiveness to NCAA rules. The plural on “staff members” is a nice touch too. I am sure the other assistant coaches on staff like being rolled into the same category as John Blake. I guess the super secret advanced NCAA report implicates Shoop, Withers, possibly even Jeff Connors. Someone might want to let ECU know they just hired a coach who blatantly ignored NCAA rules.

Seriously, this is so stupid it makes my head hurt. The problem you run into with these kinds of opinion columns is they operate with a “shoot first, ask questions later” concept of accountability that usually makes for bad management. Despite the fact the NCAA has yet to make a final report UNC should have fired Butch Davis and apparently Amy Herman as well. I realize the “it happened on their watch” mentality is legitimate. I have been fairly close to the line when it comes to Davis’ status but always in the conditional sense. As for Ms. Herman, I have no idea. Only her supervisor(AD Dick Baddour) can tell you if she has been doing her job well or if the facts they have in consultation with the NCAA indicate whether or not she should continue at UNC. However, “patented opinion columnist outrage”(POCO) means someone has to die or at the very least lose their job. And this must happen before we have all the facts and certainly without any regard for the stability of the program in general. After all, it is not about doing what’s best to resolve the problem with an eye towards several real world factors. It is about satisfying some altar of justice set up by those in the media who appoint themselves arbiters of such issues and rule without the full body of evidence. The whole truth is inconsequential when there is “outrage” to express and people to condemn.

The bottom line is, until we know everything there is to know about this, I have no idea whether promoting Amy Herman was a good move or bad one. Likewise, I would like to see the NCAA’s finished product before Butch Davis, Dick Baddour or anyone else have their careers evaluated. Yes, it is obvious mistakes were made. It is obvious UNC had some loopholes but at the same time people made bad choices of their own volition. It is also obvious UNC worked to cooperate with the NCAA and perform due diligence to adjudicate each case in the proper manner. In that respect, UNC compliance acted properly and I am sure Ms. Herman put in more nights and weekends than any of us ever care to think about.

That is why the “lack of institutional control” label probably won’t stick. UNC is not a habitual offender nor did they lack the procedures and education for their players on compliance issues. Besides that, given the delicate nature of the position, it stands to reason that UNC made this move with one eye on the NCAA. I doubt they asked for the NCAA’s approval before promoting Amy Herman but I would speculate that had the promotion or her continued presence been an issue for the NCAA it would have been addressed. I also think there is at least the possibility this may signal what UNC knows or what the NCAA has is not as damning as some might think. Since it is the NCAA, that is as far as I am willing to go. However I highly doubt UNC would promote Ms. Herman if there were facts forthcoming which painted her in a poor light or illustrated the compliance office failed to do its job.

The only question I have for UNC is the timing of the move since it does look odd from a perception standpoint. Of course it was assumed UNC would do some sort of re-organization in the compliance office which is supposed to include hiring another person. This is likely part of that effort not to mention it is really not much more than a change of title. Probably not worth the fifty gallon drum of POCO that was just dumped on us but then again, this kind of low hanging fruit rarely ever is.

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9 comments to Amy Herman Needs New Business Cards Which Really Pisses Brett Friedlander Off

  • briarcliff

    As for the timing, it could be that UNC knows it’s about to receive some sort of news from the NCAA, as in the form of a LOI. Of course a LOI is a mere formality and may not lead to sanctions, but in the press, it will be treated as a big deal. UNC knows promoting Herman AFTER such news broke would result in even more irresponsible hit pieces like Brett Friedlander’s.

  • chaucer1350

    I am betting the 2010 compliance crisis was Ms. Herman’s opportunity to shine, and new titles/business cards are much less cheaper than pay raises. Though I am sure there’s something along those lines as well.

    But as someone who grew up in SEC country and has seen it all, I don’t think it’s appropriate to refer to this past season as anything other than a unmitigated compliance disaster. That doesn’t make the mess Ms. Herman’s fault, or even necessarily Butch’s. However, we had serious benefit issues, serious academic issues, plus a recruiting coordinator who misrepresented his resume. He also was taking cash from an NFL agent who has since been suspended. That last one all by its lonesome justifies (not requires) an LOIC finding.

    I’ve seen football and basketball programs hammered by the NCAA for far less.

    So my super-optimistic operating theory is that UNC just got the NOI, it’s very, very good news, and Ms. Herman deserves a pat on the back.

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    I agree with all of THF’s points above. However, this news will be received negatively, which is why it needs to be balanced out with news that Dick Baddour has been fired… so, can UNC hurry up and do that now?

  • nativeheel

    This entire sordid affair with its wild speculation, rumors and rumors of rumors, and a giant heaping of plain old BS needs to end! The foot-dragging NCAA has had ample time to publish their findings and make their rulings regardless of the end result and the punishment meted out to the University. Let the crappy writers write their crap and the ABC’ers howl in glee. At this point I really just do not give a damn.
    Unless I now hear that Roy has a love child by a Tar Heel cheerleader and that Wanda has left him and has been named the new basketball coach at UNC my focus is on Saturday and beating the dickens out of that Ag school in Raleigh.
    Go Heels!!

  • chaucer1350

    UNC may already have the NOI. Nothing requires them to announce its arrival, and the NCAA certainly doesn’t call a press conference. Signing day is Wed.

  • Andy In Omaha

    The fact that players who did nothing wrong were still penalized with missing games shows that Butch and UNC were extra careful for not having to pay the price later on down the raod.
    On that note, I still think UNC could be better off with a coach who manages to recruit the level of talent that he’s able to bring in and only manage 8-5 seasons.
    If ABC’ers had any integrity, they would be just as upset at the crap that went on with Cam Newton (who I say will have his Heisman pulled from him within three to five years, along with Auburn’s mythical national championship) being pimped around and having everyone around him lie about it, and Ohio State players being found to commit violations but still being allowed to play in their bowl game. Let’s not forget that the NCAA is like Congress, where a bunch of crooks pass laws and then break them, only to declare themselves above said passed laws.

  • tarheelmax

    The author of this really should have looked into Compliance offices at universities. I’m currently working in one, and it is nothing short of impossible to stop someone from making a bad decision if they want to make one.

    They usually have somewhere between 3 and 10 people. How are they going to keep track of the 300-1,000 student-athletes? The best the compliance staff can do is educate them on the rules until they are (Carolina)blue in the face. That doesn’t mean an athlete is going to listen to them. It only will mean that they will try to do a better job of covering up what they did. Or not so much (I’m looking at you Marvin).

    I fully believe Amy Herman did her job well, if she didn’t she would have been fired, not promoted.

  • 52bgJ

    @tarheelmax: I ask this sincerely: yes, at a large University, you have a huge number of athletes to monitor, but it’s not like you need to devote those limited resources to women’s field hockey or tennis. How hard or unrealistic would it be to talk with faculty periodically about “red-flag” classroom issues for the high profile/red-flag sports? Off campus stuff would be harder to monitor (although systems could be and are easily devised), but the classroom issues don’t fly-that’s just weak man.

    @850-yes on Baddour!

  • tarheelmax

    I’m sure their staff does a lot to educate the players on not getting improper help. As for the faculty, I would assume that when they are hired they are told, and expected, to not give preferential treatment. The really hard part is when it’s one faculty member who does not follow that standard.

    If Jennifer Wiley and the players decided to keep their inappropriate work together quiet, it would be pretty easy to do so. I guess you could ask the professors to review any good grades the football team got, but there are a couple problems with that. Professors are probably not going to want to spend (or have) extra time to go over all those things. Some professors likely want to keep some measure of anonymity while grading. And for many players, it would be unfair to put them under the microscope for getting a good grade, since they might have actually tried hard in the class, or got proper help.