Embattled UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp is on the way out.
WRAL reported Monday morning that Thorp will step down at the close of the 2012-13 academic year, ending a watch that has been plagued by allegations of academic improprieties, primarily associated with the school's football program.
The school confirmed the news in a press release later Monday morning. This comes after Thorp met privately Friday with the UNC Board of Governors, the panel in charge of the state's public universities. The release said Thorp on Sunday told UNC President Tom Ross of his plans to resign.
"I will always do what is best for this university," Thorp said in the release. "This wasn't an easy decision personally. But when I thought about the university and how important it's been to me, to North Carolinians and to hundreds of thousands of alumni, my answer became clear."
Thorp has held the position since 2008. A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and former chemistry professor, Thorp was among the youngest university leaders in the nation when he accepted the chancellor's post at the age of 43.
But the school's reputation has been sullied in the last two years by allegations of improper benefits for football players, as well as an ongoing investigation into academic misconduct—including altered grades and infrequently-taught courses—in the university's Department of African or Afro-American Studies. The classes in question were popular among UNC athletes.
Most recently, the school has been in the headlines over accusations of improper travel spending among UNC fundraisers.
Thorp acknowledged the UNC scandals in Monday's release.
"Over the last two years, we have identified a number of areas that need improvement," he said. "We have a good start on reforms that are important for the future of this university. I have pledged that we will be a better university, and I am 100 percent confident in that."
Ross said he would work with UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees Chairman Wade Hargrove to find a successor to Thorp.
After months of scrappy debate, Durham’s Parks and Recreation department tonight is expected to unveil the fate of Old North Durham Park, a 3.6-acre space at Geer and Foster streets. The city has scheduled a community meeting for 7 p.m. at the downtown Durham Armory, 212 Foster St.
The park currently hosts the only full-sized soccer field in downtown, and one of only a dozen full-sized fields in the city. The space is owned by the city and shared the Central Park School for Children charter school. The soccer field is used by soccer leagues and residents for frequent pickup games, particularly Latinos.
Area residents, activists and supporters of the school have bumped heads on proposed redesigns of the park. Last fall, the Friends of Old North Durham Park, a coalition of neighborhood groups spearheaded by Central Park School for Children, presented a plan to overhaul the park and add community gardens, a picnic shelter and trail. But the plans called for the soccer field to be down-sized. Other users of the park, backed by activists from El Kilombo Intergalático, criticized the plans as gentrification.
Community groups calling for a full-sized soccer field will gather for a rally today at 6 p.m. at CCB Plaza, 201 N. Corcoran St., and will march to the 7 p.m. city meeting.
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — Cape Town, June 29, noon, and the streets are filling up with fans of Spain and Portugal wearing their scarves and wigs and jerseys, the national flags draped across their backs, faces painted. The vuvuzelas already blare, as they do almost every moment.
I am glad that FIFA President Sepp Blatter made the decision to let a thousand vuvuzelas blossom, or a million vuvuzelas blare, but the truth is that they are a one-note wall of sound blocking out all the other national chants and cheers and songs, and I am sorry about that. The vuvus only truly bother me, though, when someone blows one directly into my ear or fills a shuttle bus with the relentless mooing.
But that’s the only bad thing I have to say about being at the World Cup in South Africa. Without exception, the South Africans I have spoken to in my first week here are thrilled and proud of have the Cup here. They are excited to show off their country, to break the stereotypes their visitors have about their country and continent. And they want to talk about soccer. Taxi drivers compare Messi to Ronaldo. Grocery clerks want to tell me why the English will never win the Cup. Waiters want to analyze last night’s game and predict tomorrow’s.
South Africans flock to the Fan Fests and the games themselves to watch, taking their children who have the month out of school for the Cup. My family and I saw two games in the gorgeous lowveld town of Nelspruit, nestled in a familiar Blue Ridge, and South African fans filled half the seats at both games. We saw Australia vs. Serbia, and the Aussies brought thousands of rowdy fans with them. We also saw North Korea vs. Ivory Coast, and we could spot nary a North Korea fan in the stadium full of South African’s who roared for the Elephants.
Can I admit that, as a fan of U.S. soccer, I was not unhappy when we lost to Ghana? True, when Landon Donovan scored the miracle goal to beat Algeria and put us through, my boys and I made a flesh pile in our hotel room. But here in Africa the desire, the need, for an African team to make good in this African World Cup is a very powerful force. Other than U.S. fans, I didn’t see or hear a soul pulling for our team. When Ghana won — and wasn’t it a glorious goal in the overtime? — Cape Town’s Long Street filled with a parade of cheering South Africans and young tourists from every other nation. Before the U.S. and Ghana earned their match-up, I heard plenty of South Africans praise and support the U.S. team, but the desire to support an African team trumped everything. I am praying, with Africa and most of the world, that Ghana beats Uruguay.
Unemployment in South Africa is chronic and stands at about 25 percent. Beggars walk the tourist areas with their hands out and sleep in the doorways. The shanties of the townships house millions of people. I expected that, but I hadn’t expected the rest — the sleek modern prosperity of much of Cape Town, black and white; the young, educated black South Africans in their stylish clothes and multi-lingual comfort with the tourists flocking to their country; the kindly, small-town feel of Nelspruit, where white and black South Africans mingled to work and eat and drink and dance and make us welcome.
When Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, we hung a huge African National Congress flag on the outside wall of the Independent’s office in Durham. I had written for the Independent in the 1980s about North Carolina corporations doing business with the apartheid government of South Africa. I remember demonstrating with South African poet Dennis Brutus at Pinehurst, of all places, when — against the bans of world sports bodies — an American group invited the all-white South African golf team to come to Pinehurst and play. So perhaps all that now-ancient history gave me my predisposition to expect something very different here from what I am finding. The South Africans I meet, rich and poor, are proud of their country, proud of its progress and its burgeoning economy, proud to show off South Africa to the world. Yes, there is massive frustration that the government can’t eradicate unemployment or replace the shanties in the townships with real housing. There are gangs and drugs, and violent crime here is rampant. Corruption cases fill the newspapers. But there is a hopefulness, a newness, a sense of progress that I rarely experience in my own country.
It is now raining hard outside. I suppose we will be wearing our rain gear to the stadium tonight for the game. But nothing can dampen the spirits of the fans and the South African people who host us.
Steve Schewel founded the Independent Weekly in 1983 and coaches the Riverside High School girls varsity soccer team
Durham just got another small push in its efforts to bring Google's high-speed Internet access project to the Bull City—the endorsement of the mayor of Morgantown, W.Va., whose home team lost to the Duke Blue Devils in the semifinals for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
When it became apparent that Duke's men's basketball team was going to meet the West Virginia Mountaineers on April 3, Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Morgantown Mayor Bill Byrne made a friendly wager. The mayor of the losing team's hometown had to write an endorsement bolstering the other town's application for the Google project.
Well, Duke trounced West Virginia, winning 78 to 57 (and of course, went on to win the national title). As a result of the loss, Byrne wrote a humbled and humorous letter of support for Durham's application to Google on April 7, saying:
"With a heavy heart, I take pen to hand (actually finger to key board) and herein express the City of Morgantown's enthusiastic endorsement of Durham's Google application to be selected as ONE of hopefully SEVERAL (to include Morgantown) communities to participate in Google's broadband experiments."Read the full letter here >>
Will the endorsements help Durham's chances? We can only wait to find out. Google is supposed to announce its test communities by the end of the year.
The rumblings are getting louder, and Adam Sobsey has been listening over at Triangle Offense.
And there's bad news for Fernando Perez, last year's super-fast center fielder who ended the season on the Tampa Bay World Series roster and also was seen down there co-hosting a rally for presidential candidate Barack Obama.
After 19 years of leading men, women and children on bucolic, low-key trips on the Eno River and millpond, "Riverdave" Owen and his partner Riojosie announced on their Web site yesterday that the program, administered in conjunction with the Durham Parks and Recreation department, will cease operations.
The reason: a dispute over proposed changes in their contract with the city. The biggest disputes seem to be that the city will no longer allow them to stage their excursions from the old blacksmith shop and that the city is now requiring them to purchase liability insurance (according to Riverdave, his program had been covered under the city's policy).
The announcement is here.
H/T to the N&O's outdoors and fitness reporter Joe Miller, who is following the story.
A high-profile game sure brings out the politicians. Super Bowl winners often get face time with presidents (or voice time with them), for example. Sometimes politicians even want to be seen with athletes who've just disgraced themselves in front of the entire planet: In 2006, after Zinedine Zidane notoriously headbutted Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final, French politicians eager to be seen with a French-Arab hero rushed to Zidane's side.
Still, it doesn't always benefit the politician to be at the ballgame, of course. Especially when the team is the Philadelphia Flyers. Just ask Sarah Palin.
The stakes are a little lower down here on Tobacco Road, to put it very mildly: According to a press release issued today from the Chapel Hill mayor’s office, Kevin Foy and his counterpart in Durham, Mayor Bill Bell, will stimulate one or the other's municipal economy after the outcome of Wednesday night's battle royale in Cameron Indoor Stadium between the sixth-ranked Blue Devils of Duke and the third-ranked Tar Heels of UNC.
If Duke loses, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy will receive tickets to a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center, the newly opened largest performing arts theater in the Carolinas. If UNC loses, Durham Mayor Bill Bell is invited to a night on Franklin Street and Asian cuisine at the Lantern Restaurant, which the News and Observer ranked as the 2008 #1 restaurant in the Triangle.
If every loser won such sweet deals, we should all be losers, right? Ahh, not really. Far more difficult than accepting defeat is the second part of the wager - if UNC wins, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy will supply Durham Mayor Bill Bell with a Carolina blue sweatshirt which he will wear at the next Durham City Council meeting. If Duke wins, Durham Mayor Bill Bell will supply Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy with a Duke blue sweatshirt which he will wear at the next Chapel Hill Town Council Meeting.
Mayor Bell wasn't reached for comment.
Perhaps Mayors Bell and Foy—and you, dear reader—will consider joining our crack Triangle Offense contributors Wednesday night as they live-blog the game, which starts at 9 p.m.
Yow, the NCSU women's basketball coach and much more, died this morning.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival announced today that Steve James, director of one of the most successful documentaries ever, the 1994 epic Hoop Dreams, will curate a sports-themed program at this year's festival, which runs April 2-5.
James' sidebar will be called This Sporting Life, and will not be limited to documentaries. Instead, the series "will include some of the lesser-seen dramatic films that take place in the world of sports. Selections will include those that specifically anticipated the emergence of the sports genre in documentary filmmaking, which continues to be honest, vibrant, and original."
Any suggestions for Mr. James? We've got a couple: The Harder They Fall, a boxing muckraker with Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger and real-life boxers Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott; and The History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game, the 11-hour, Terence Stamp-narrated British television documentary from 2001.
Leave your suggestions here or at Triangle Offense, our sports blog.
Full Frame also announced a special memorial program in honor of St. Clair Bourne, a documentary filmmaker and friend of the festival who died in December 2007. Complete release after the jump.
Women's basketball coach Kay Yow, battling stage-four breast cancer, is missed. WRAL interviewed her oncologist, who wasn't optimistic about her returning any time soon.