Posted by Chip Patterson
UPDATE: Robbi Pickeral, who authored the initial News and Observer report, says that UNC has received the information request from the lawyers of the football boosters. School still has no official comment.
Things got even crazier on Monday in the ongoing drama that has become the North Carolina football program. According to a local report, a group of North Carolina football boosters who agreed to help fund a recent Kenan Stadium expansion are exploring possible legal action against chancellor Holden Thorp.
The identities of the boosters involved has not been made public, but one of the attorneys representing the group told the Raleigh News and Observer he plans to file a public information request asking for all correspondence between the Chancellor and other school officials.
Don Brown, of Charlotte, N.C., is one of five lawyers (all UNC graduates) that have taken the case pro bono. For the first time in the stadium's 84 year history, both end zones are now bowled in thanks to the construction of the "Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence." The new service building for the athletic department also brought 2,980 new seats, a club level, and suites that can be priced at $50,000 per year. There have been reports that donors have asked for refunds since Butch Davis' dismissal, which were denied.
"I can tell you, everybody that we represent is furious about the timing of Butch Davis' firing," Brown told the News and Observer in a phone interview. "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."
A UNC spokesman said that as of 11:30 a.m. on Monday the school had received no FOIA request, and there is no official comment on the issue.
The group of enraged boosters is said to be of different contribution levels, and it is not clear exactly what they hope to gain from pursuing legal action. Brown emphasized in his interview with the News and Observer that they are only "seeking information" right now. One recent precedent was Connecticut booster Robert Burtonwho asked for his $3 million back from the school and requested to have his name taken off the Burton Family Football Complex. After causing quite a public stir, Burton and the school were eventually back on good terms and no drastic action was taken. The legalities of donations (particularly ones earmarked for a project like the Blue Zone) could get particularly hairy and difficult to reclaim in a court of law. It could be argued that this is a case of upset boosters, who simply do not know another way to fire back at an administration which they feel has wronged them.