Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fundraisers at University of North Carolina Resign Amid Reports of Mixing Business With Pleasure

Matt Kupec

Two fundraisers at the University of North Carolina, including the institution's vice chancellor for university advancement, have resigned after an investigation of travel expenses that mixed business with pleasure.

Matt Kupec, who was UNC's chief fundraising officer, resigned on Sunday. Tami Hansbrough, who raised funds in the university's division of student affairs, resigned yesterday. She is the mother of former UNC basketball star Tyler Hansbrough, who now plays for the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association.

The North Carolina story is similar to a scandal involving questionable travel and former university presidents Carol Garrison of UAB and John Shumaker of Tennessee. That story broke roughly 10 years ago and led to Shumaker's resignation in 2003. Garrison kept her job at UAB until she resigned last month under mysterious circumstances.

This might not be the last we hear of questionable ethics involving university fundraisers. We've received multiple reports of unethical activities involving at least one top development executive at an Alabama university, and we are researching that story as the North Carolina story breaks.

Romantic liaisons often seem to be at the heart of these stories. That was the case with Garrison and Shumaker, it appears to be the case with the story we currently are researching, and it was the case at North Carolina.

Tami Hansbrough
Kupec and Hansbrough had a relationship that apparently contributed to his divorce, which was finalized in 2011. Kupec originally tried to hire Hansbrough for a position that reported directly to him, but the university's chancellor nixed that appointment because of nepotism rules. She ultimately was hired for a job that jointly reported to Kupec and UNC's vice chancellor for student affairs.

It all began to unravel about a month ago when The Raleigh News and Observer began to investigate reports that Kupec and Hansbrough had charged the university for personal travel. University officials continue to investigate trips that coincided with basketball games for Hansbrough's son, Ben, who was a star player at Notre Dame.

Should UNC officials, including Chancellor Holden Thorp, have seen this coming? The answer apparently is yes because Hansbrough and Kupec have been connected to a number of messy entanglements for some time. Reports the News and Observer:

Thorp has said he learned from Kupec sometime in the fall of 2009 that Kupec and Hansbrough, a former Miss Missouri, were in a relationship. 
Around that time, records show, both Kupec and Hansbrough were also in the midst of court actions involving allegations of affairs. 
In September 2009, Hansbrough was sued in Mississippi by a woman who alleged that Hansbrough broke up her marriage. 
In October 2009, Kupec separated from his wife with the intent to divorce, records show. His wife alleged “marital misconduct” in court papers, but the documents do not detail further allegations.

With travel audits ongoing, the story of shaky ethics in university fundraising continues to churn in North Carolina. Based on reports we are receiving, it is about to start churning in Alabama, as well.


Anonymous said...

U of North Carolina has a lot of problems right now. This just adds to the list.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but Tami Hansbrough is hot, so who cares?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Hansbrough is hot, but I bet Mr. Kupec is asking himself, "Was she really worth my $400,000 a year job?"

Anonymous said...

Thorp now leaving in June.

legalschnauzer said...

Ah, another scalp. I hadn't heard that. Thanks for sharing. Are you thinking there is going to be a pretty big fire at UNC before all of this is done?