UNC Scandals Call For Decisive Action
How many more body blows can UNC-Chapel Hill suffer before it finds its credibility down for the count?
How many more embarrassing and image-devastating scandals will it take to make the administration of our state’s once-proud university system realize that there has simply been too much laxity, too many key leaders asleep at too many switches, too much looking the other way in the face of egregious wrongdoing and abuse of power?
And, although the latest ugly shoe to fall only tangentially involves sports, North Carolinians should view it as yet another deeply troubling indicator of the ways an obsessive emphasis on athletics can undermine an institution’s central educational role.
Latest in a Series
This week’s revolting revelation — the latest in a seeming endless string of front-page exposes in our cousin paper, The News & Observer of Raleigh — reads like something straight out of a tawdry soap opera. It involves Matt Kupec, who parlayed his fame as a UNC football hero in the 1970s into a $350,000-a-year job as the Chapel Hill campus’ vice chancellor for advancement, or chief fundraiser.
The sequence of events that followed looks like a classic example of letting fame and power go to one’s head and result in stunningly terrible lapses of judgment. By all accounts, Kupec began by getting involved with Tami Hansbrough, who just happens to be the mother of former UNC basketball superstar Tyler Hansbrough.
Then, in 2010, he tried to hire her as a fundraiser reporting to him. When he was quietly advised that such a work relationship might raise more than a few eyebrows, darned if he didn’t turn around and help Hansbrough land another campus job in which she supposedly reported to another vice chancellor — though she was still paid out of Kupec’s departmental budget!
Chancellor Holden Thorp does not appear to have made any waves about that arrangement.
Too Much Damage
But all that is just background. It now develops that Kupec and Hansbrough took frequent university-paid trips around the country together. Though these cozy junkets supposedly included meetings with potential donors, at least some also just happened to involve destinations where another of Tami’s sons, Ben, was playing basketball on the Notre Dame team.
One might have thought that the two stars in this drama, who between them pulled down close to a half-million dollars in salaries, could have afforded to buy their own tickets for these sports junkets, but apparently not.
Confronted with all this, both Kupec and Hansbrough promptly resigned, as they should have. But at this point, that’s not enough. This latest outrage didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes fast on the heels of too many other debilitating scandals.
They include the numerous football violations that brought a series of NCAA sanctions and cost coach Butch Davis his job. Then, of course, there were all those bogus non-courses in the African Studies Department that allowed dozens of “students,” mostly athletes, to maintain the sham that they were actually getting a college education worthy of the name.
Enough abuses. Enough shame. Enough damage to our cherished flagship university. Time to straighten things out once and for all.
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