FOOTBALL UNDER INVESTIGATION
50 Years Ago: NCAA Looked at One Issue,
‘Theoretically, the larger the pro- gram the greater the temptation to depart from the rules and reg-
ulations and principles. … However, realis-
tically, it simply means that greater care on
the part of everyone concerned is essential
to insure that excesses do not prevail.”
That was William Brantley Aycock ’ 37
(MA, ’ 48 JD), speaking to The Durham
Herald in November 1957. Carolina was
flush with a storybook basketball season
that ended in a national championship. But
the chancellor was hearing questions about
a player getting improper transportation
benefits and one man’s claims that he had
recruited players for the UNC program for
Neither proved to be true. But as the
NCAA was looking into the allegations, it
saw some other things it didn’t like.
The trustees had in 1954 placed ultimate responsibility for the conduct of athletics on the UNC System campuses with
the chancellor (which today is the NCAA
standard at all schools). Aycock insisted athletes be treated no differently from other
students — that they not receive anything
any student couldn’t have. He made it clear
he didn’t see any correlation between winning football games and winning general
support for the University. He said, as policy, he would not fire a coach just for not
winning. He also was on the football practice field many days, as a rabid fan.
In late 1958, the basketball players had
signed notes saying they received no special
favors or money.
But their coach, Frank McGuire, had
played loosely with entertainment of
recruits and lodging and food for some
players’ families. In the years 1952-58, it
was NCAA-legal to hire and pay a person
to interact with prospective players and try
to attract them to your school. But
McGuire had paid a friend of his — a bas-ketball-knowledgeable New Yorker named
Harry Gotkin (not the same person who
was the subject of the mid-1950s rumors)
— through expense reports that basically
were cooked up after the fact. And Gotkin
evidently was not up on the rule book.
The following scenario is documented
in letters from Aycock’s personal papers.
In January 1960, the NCAA informed
UNC it was under investigation.
In February, Gotkin wrote Aycock: “I
do not know what is considered excessive
entertainment by the NCAA.” He “
vehemently” denied an NCAA claim that he
paid for players’ transportation. Players such
as Larry Brown ’ 63, Doug Moe ’ 61, York
Larese ’ 60 and Donnie Walsh ’ 62 signed
letters backing him up on the transportation issue.
In July of that year, McGuire explained
the bookkeeping to Aycock. McGuire had
wondered how Gotkin was to be paid.
Athletics Director Chuck Erickson would-
n’t authorize payment, so McGuire went to
Fayetteville and met with two trustees to
see how the AD could be persuaded to pay.
Shortly afterward, Erickson told McGuire
to pay Gotkin through an itemized
account. McGuire replied that no records
had been kept. Erickson told him to fill
out reports the best he could.
William Brantley Aycock ’ 37 (MA, ’ 48 JD)
“I’m most concerned about the environment for our students. Are they in the
best position to get the education that’s
going to be the best for them, regardless of
whether they do or don’t continue to play
sports professionally? That’s my number
“And then the second concern is how
to make sure the academic values come
first in all the stuff we’ve been talking
about. Then the third thing is, how do we
keep the good parts of what we have. If
we’re going to get our position back, earn
our way back to the leadership position
that we have, we have to figure out how to
ROBERT WILLETT/THE NEWS & OBSERVER
continued on page 25