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Bubba Cunningham Interview (6-2-20)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
June 2, 2020 6:08 pm

Bubba Cunningham Interview (6-2-20)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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June 2, 2020 6:08 pm

Bubba Cunningham joined The Drive with Josh Graham to discuss where COVID-19 ranks among his professional hurdles, to give an update on UNC athletics, and more. 

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George Lloyd protests all across the state of North Carolina and really across the country. We've seen statements out of Chapel Hill from Mac Brown Roy Williams at our next guess it's the director of athletics at the University of North Carolina Bubba Cunningham and Bubba.

The times always appreciated.

I hope you're safe but take me behind-the-scenes on what the communication has looked like.

While many of you have still been at home.

How many of your coaches and players have you spoken with on the subject. Oh boy, talk to a lot of amended. As teams and individually but we actually have a call tomorrow night. I have a call with all of our student athletes.

All we have a call set up for all 800.

We had a couple of conflicts early this week so would the soonest we could set up was tomorrow but you know most of our students have been speaking with their coaches and adjuster is very difficult time for everyone you know people are just searching for answers and trying to search for understanding how do senseless acts like that continue to happen and then we have the. The protests the lawful protests and then those turn ugly and just. It is so divisive that you just to really difficult time emotionally for a lot of people and we spent a lot of time with our staff as well because many of our staff members African-American. Some of them have no kids between 15 and 25 years old and they have the anxiety and fear and frustration then you know all working through a very tense time at the pandemic and then you put this on top of it and it can be overwhelming for some. So I think conversations are helpful, but we really need to move toward solutions and less talking and more action discounted click cliché as well, but there's certainly a lot of things we can do to try to change the course of our future you working in college athletics be in NAD for nearly 2 decades in me working in sports radio we we both are around young people so often. And it's funny. It always seems like every generation is critical of the next generation coming up there.

A very easy piñata on many different occasions but as you're describing what's been of rep very tumultuous week.

II find optimism from the younger generation that seems very interested in shedding identity-based prejudice and they they have more information available to them because of these phones that you can simply find whatever you want to want want to look up at any point. It seems to be there more compassionate than they've ever been as well is somebody who works with as many student athletes as you are privileged to be with. What makes this group different descriptive group in this generation different than the ones you've dealt with in the past what I think you've done a great job summarizing what you certainly have been observant with this generation.

You're right, for whatever reason, they are much more in tune to those issues that you just described sexuality race. Those things are are nonissues to this generation and but what they're looking for our opportunities and what I feel like as leaders we need to make sure that we provide more than hope. What we need to provide helpful. We need to provide opportunities for them to reach their dreams and to be successful in what they want to do for there's been this gap of achievement. This gap of opportunity between the races and I think that we have failed certain parts of our population in our educational systems are our legal systems, and I think that those are the areas where the youth really want to make a difference and I think we need to be. I think it's the older people that need to be open-minded and to recognize that they have a lot of good ideas and they want people to be successful, and they want people to find happiness in fulfillment in and what they find to be interesting and fulfilling. Not what we think they should do and I think that's mindset change for some of us have been doing it for a long time it's North Carolina director of athletics Bubba Cunningham with us in sports, untried, let me remind people of what you put out last week announcing a plan to return to campus. It's already started with facility staff members moving in yesterday, June 8 is when the sports medicine staff is scheduled to return June 12 coaching staff for football, men's basketball, women's basketball and then football student athletes will move in in separate groups on the 12th, 19th, 26 and 29th, respectively, and then a big day is July 6 when men's and women's basketball. Student athletes are going to be welcome back, field hockey, volleyball, men's and women's soccer cross-country there to be coming back on July 13. It's funny, not really funny but interesting John Swofford. He joined us.

I think about a month ago and he was the director of athletics in the chair that you currently sit in a few decades ago is been the ACC commissions 97 and I asked him where March 12, and this challenge of COBIT 19 ranked among things he dealt with and without hesitation he said this is number one and I don't even know what number two is you were once NAD at Tulsa when they transition from her. They were to conference USA and you've dealt with a lot including the NCAA stuff early in your tenure so I wonder where does this challenge trying to put together something that such a moving target. Something like returning the campus really the entire Challenger coronavirus rank among things you've dealt with as a director of athletics. Oh I think I would deftly agree with Commissioner Swofford and I was thinking back on that it when it first happened. Someone asked me a very similar question and said yes what are some of the most challenging things you've dealt with in and at the time I thought we would house at Tulsa we had traveled up to Utah to Provo and play were playing BYU and there was a rain and lightning storm and we delayed the game 20 minutes and I thought that was a big deal and it's really it's a lot different now in your cancel, but NCAA tournament to cancel the ACC tournament with. We haven't had students on campus in three months and I thought back at that again my guys you thought that was a problem. That's like a pickup and this is by far you know no one is experiences in our lifetime, and yet to be alive in the early 1900s. During the Spanish flutist anything like this in our country and used unexpected. You know the other things that were dead have surprised me since I've been at Carolina you know we had we had to delay a football game because we had ice.

We had to delay a basketball of the Duke basketball game because of the snowstorm we had to move again. The Greensboro because we didn't have water and I do feel like we've had a few incidents that I didn't realize what happened in the United States and missed this one takes the cake. So, but I think we can do pretty well. Our give our Chancellor a lot of credit. He he said the other day said, you know, we gave our faculty in onset.

Hey we want to remove the online education for our students would take 15 committees in three years to do that. But when you say we have to do it within 10 days.

They got it done in 10 days so I give them credit for really responding to a very difficult situation to deliver education for this past semester and now are preparing for both in classroom education and online should know we get a second wave that we think we have to make another adjustment in the future based on information you receive that's allowed you to mold the return to campus plan. What gives you optimism will be able to safely safely play football this fall. I think people really want to get back to normal and we only want to do that if we could do it safely and you know it Carolina it is great. The infectious disease folks that we have epidemiologist most of the guys and women that are are advising Kevin to make the decision to bring our students back and to bring the campus back the fully operational and were trying to create the educational experiences that the students signed up for when they enrolled at Carolina so the classroom work is part of the sense of community. The athletic events.

All of that is part of the collegiate experience and were all trying to do it so carefully in phases bring some students back test them do some tracing. Make sure that we don't have it spreading too fast that we can handle this as a community and hopefully that will work. I ate all the experts think we have a chance that it will work is going to be perfect.

Probably not.

All we have to modify it as we go.

Probably. But I think it would really trust the experts and we can do things safely and with no Kevin has a son who's going to be a junior at Carolina.

Many of our faculty have student have sons and daughters there, so they're not doing things can put your own children at risk and we certainly window with someone else's kids either. Assuming we still don't have a vaccine.

Bubba will be in Cunningham wanted director of athletics where you stand in terms of comfort on having fans in the stands at King well you know if we if we did today we would now but you know four months ago we were playing in full arena and we don't have a home game for another three nap months so were preparing for a variety of options we might have to reduce it in some capacity. Certainly, masking face coverings are certainly something is getting a lot of traction now that can really reduce the risk. It's a ways off. So were continuing to plan. I'm hopeful will have the sport I'm even more hopeful will have fans when we do have them, but trying to predict how many or what percentage I think it's a little premature to try to forecast that because we do have quite some time at do you have a good Michael Jordan story because what's funny. We're talking to Jill Barry and Joel mentioned that after they lost the championship game in 16 Michael came into the locker room and talk to the team and then we asked Coach Williams about it and Roy said he was sitting on a stool outside of the locker room when someone tapped on the shoulder. It was Michael and Roy said I didn't know what to say at that moment to my team that would be good enough. And Michael said I'll take care of it and he walked to the locker room.

I thought I was a pretty cool deal being in the chair you sent and also with North Carolina having a unique partnership with Air Jordan anything stick out when you think about experiences you had around Michael interesting, well you know – what he was playing with the bulls maybe note last year with the goals I had gone over to Chicago and one the Mondays where he played in all Florida golf on Mondays and just you know is he still plays not logoff like the sigh was fortunate enough to play with them. Then you again as anybody says we need you around somebody like that for the first time pretty nerve-racking in get to the first tee and and and I would so the obvious question comes up and said what would you know what you play for in his response was, whatever makes you uncomfortable being here makes me uncomfortable. And so we had a great time with him and now he did know me from Adam, but we have some mutual friends and it was really fortunate to play well. I know ironically 25 years later I become the AG at North Carolina and we run into each other at an event with Gatorade and he looks at me because you have got to be kidding me. You are now the athletic director of my school.

I can't believe itself when we shared a couple of times together. There was not a lot of fun.

Did you take money off Mike or do you take money off the fifth of sounds good, appreciate you spending the time. I know it's been a really busy week for you and appreciate you sharing a bunch of information with our audience.

I appreciate thanks for your time as well. Appreciate what you're doing and keeping everyone calm and promoting a athletics because I do think sports and providing educational opportunities for kids to get an education is one of the best ways that we can beat racism and provide opportunities for people to achieve their dreams. Thank you very much that's well set. Thanks, Mike. You know she's on Twitter at Bubba UNC is the director of athletics at North Carolina


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