North Carolina coach Mack Brown said Wednesday that he understood why the NCAA’s Division I Board released a statement after pointed comments by the North Carolina coach and other UNC officials regarding the decision to rule WR Devontez Walker ineligible for the 2023 season.
The board said Tuesday that it had received threats and harassment after its decision to keep Walker on the sidelines in 2023 and said it was “troubled” by remarks made by Brown and others at North Carolina. Brown released a pointed statement after the decision was final and said he was extremely disappointed in the NCAA.
On Wednesday, Brown denounced threats the board said it had received and said that he was simply standing up for one of his players.
“I totally respect the chairman of the Division I committee standing up for the volunteers and his staff,” Brown said. “That’s what we all do. And if somebody is harassing the staff, threatening the staff or has wronged the staff, then that’s wrong. And that should stop and that should stop immediately. You don’t want to create mental health problems for those families and the people that are involved because they’re trying to do their jobs. Absolutely wrong and I absolutely agree with him. And that’s exactly the same reason that the administration and I stood up for Tez Walker. Because we thought he was wronged. And we felt like he was treated poorly, it increased the stress for [his] mental health.”
Walker transferred to North Carolina from Kent State after the 2022 season in what was officially the second transfer of his college career. Walker first enrolled at FCS-level North Carolina Central, but the school’s 2020 football season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Charlotte native never played football at NC Central because the season was canceled and transferred to Kent State. He had 58 catches for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022 and said that he came to North Carolina to be closer to his ailing grandmother who had played a major role in his life.
The NCAA passed a rule over the offseason that required two-time transfers to get a waiver from the governing body to be immediately eligible at their new schools. In August, the NCAA ruled that Walker would be unable to play in 2023. UNC immediately appealed the decision and the appeal was denied in the days after North Carolina’s first game of the season.
In its statement denouncing Brown’s remarks, the NCAA said that North Carolina should work to change the transfer rules if it is unhappy with them. Brown said Wednesday that the school had no problem with the rule but its issue was with the way Walker was viewed as a two-time transfer.
“We want our players to be treated like we want our sons to be treated,” Brown said. “And you can’t just say that, you have to do it. So when the chairman was standing up for his volunteers and the NCAA staff, that’s all we’re doing. We’re standing up for a player that we feel like was treated poorly and there was lack of judgment. Because it’s not about the transfer rule. When you start looking at the transfer rule, we’re not dissatisfied with it. We’re dissatisfied with the committee reviewing the waiver. Because Tez’s situation is different, he should be treated like a one-time transfer.”