It seems that the perspectives of many involved in and around the world of intercollegiate athletics has truly shown its skewed view in North Carolina.
The current situation at the University of North Carolina has gotten more interesting and stranger as a group of boosters are now demanding answers to find out why Butch Davis, former Tar Heels football coach, was recently fired by Chancellor Holden Thorp.
According to a post by the Charlotte Observer on Monday, a public records request was filed by a set of attorneys who are working on a ‘pro bono’ basis on behalf of an anonymous group of donors who provided funding for the expansion project at Kenan Stadium,
The legal group is headed by Charlotte attorney Don Brown, an UNC grad who is working with four other lawyers who are Tar Heels alums as well, and are seeking to find out through the State of North Carolina Freedom of Information (FOI) Act any and all information that led up to Davis’ termination and related communications involving Thorp and other University officials.
The boosters represented by the five different attorneys are claiming that their financial support was provided on the basis that Davis would remain as the football coach.
“They feel like their investment was based on Butch Davis being the head coach … and the public reassurances over the past year that he would remain the coach. … They want answers.”
The start of it all
Up this point, the role of boosters and financial supporters has not been discussed much in detail as a part of the complex nature and public relations problems that many college athletics programs are facing around the country.
There is no better time than the present to clearly identify the source for the stress, the demand, and the need for institutions of higher education to be involved in winning and ‘successful’ athletics program that generate millions of dollars annually, particularly in football and basketball – the boosters and financial donors.
Many wonder how college coaches such as Butch Davis have been making millions of dollars while the faculties on campuses across the country are faced with shrinking budgets, frozen salaries, and job losses. It is the generous and financial support and continued involvement of boosters and donors that has helped to create much of the ‘royalty’ in athletics that exists at many institutions considered to be sitting at the upper echelon of NCAA Division I competition.
Long before marketing companies and sports agents assumed significant roles in what has now evolved into the multi-million dollar professional operation and structuring of intercollegiate athletics, it has been the institutional supporters and donors who are and have always been the source of wealth for an institution to draw from.
Mostly well-intended graduates and supporters of their alma maters, these individuals for all intents and purposes just want to help their university and athletics department be successful.
However, at what cost?
It used to be that an institution would receive donations for projects and let their supporters know how appreciated they were and where their money helped the institution. Nothing more, nothing less was required – no questions asked. The money was provided without any demands placed upon when, where, or how it would be spent. After all, anything that could be done to help ‘their school,’ was the only intrinsic ‘fuzzy and warm’ feeling they needed.
Times have changed.
Quid pro quo?
University administrators have honed their skills on how to cater to individuals and companies who provide their financial support, and unfortunately at many institutions, including the University of North Carolina, a sense of entitlement has now reared its ugly head.
This is not new to intercollegiate athletics.
Many athletics departments that have had competitive success have developed large groups of individuals, aka booster clubs, who have provided significant financial support to put towards new and expanded facilities and related projects for the ‘good of the program’ and the institution.
Traditionally this support has come with the understanding and knowledge that donors are solely providing funds to improve their alma mater or local university and can have the feeling of ‘being a part of it all’.
It was left in the hands of the administrators to conduct the business of the institution as needed, to make appropriate decisions and spend the money as needed, but it seems that the disgruntled group helping to contribute to the Kenan Stadium expansion project on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill doesn’t see it that way.
Apparently they seem to think that a ‘quid pro quo’ agreement was in place with the University because they donated to the project based on Butch Davis being the head coach.
Does this mean they would not have contributed to the project otherwise? Was there a note on the contribution card that stated that he would be the coach, even in light of the program he led being under an NCAA investigation?
As proud supporters of the university and the program, why are they anonymous and not identifying themselves when they are asking for a public records disclosure from the university? How can they ask for disclosure when they are not disclosing themselves? Do they have something to hide?
It would be very interesting if that were the case, wouldn’t it?
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