UNC-CH sends Tami Hansbrough records to NCAA

dkane@newsobserver.comSeptember 21, 2012 

The NCAA has received several travel and hiring records related to Tami Hansbrough in the wake of the questionable travel at UNC-Chapel Hill that caused her and the vice chancellor for university advancement to resign from their fundraising jobs.

UNC officials on Friday afternoon made public a copy of a fax sent to Mike Zonder, the NCAA’s assistant director of enforcement, on Sept. 13. That is a day after Hansbrough resigned her position as a fundraiser for the office of student affairs and five days after the vice chancellor, Matt Kupec, resigned.

Their resignations followed a preliminary internal review by the university that found they had been taking fundraising trips that appeared to be personal in nature. Several of the trips involved basketball games featuring Hansbrough’s sons -- Tyler Hansbrough, a UNC star now playing for the Indiana Pacers, and Ben Hansbrough, a star with Notre Dame who played professionally in Europe last season.

Kupec and Hansbrough had been in a relationship that began nearly a year after she had been hired as a fundraiser for the foundation that serves UNC’s dental school. An internal review of spending within the foundation found that Hansbrough had traveled to 2009 NCAA tournament games in Memphis where Tyler was playing without getting proper authorization. She later reported the trip involved meeting and greeting donors.

She left the foundation for another fundraising job under Winston Crisp, the vice chancellor for student affairs, in February 2011. But months earlier, Kupec had tried to hire her to work under him directly. UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp halted the hire because he was aware of their relationship, but he allowed Hansbrough to take the second job, which had been launched and funded by Kupec.

Thorp announced his resignation on Monday, though he will stay on as chancellor through the school year.

University General Counsel Leslie Strohm sent Zonder the fax after a conversation with him, the records show. She pointed out in the fax that Hansbrough had been hired to both jobs after proper searches that each included dozens of applicants. In both cases, Hansbrough was paid at the upper end of the listed salary range, the hiring records provided to the NCAA show.

Strohm also gave the NCAA records Hansbrough generated showing her fundraising efforts at the NCAA tournament and a prior ACC tournament in Atlanta. The athletic department had been notified of those trips after the foundation audit, and determined there was no need to notify the NCAA, UNC officials said.

A synopsis of Hansbrough’s hiring and work history at the foundation -- which had been drawn up by its new executive director in response to an N&O records request -- was also faxed to the NCAA.

Strohm and Zonder could not be reached for comment on the communication, so the context of the records exchange is unclear. In the past, a university spokeswoman said UNC officials provide written notifications if they think a violation has taken place. No such notification is included.

UNC-CH spokesman Michael McFarland said in a statement: "After recent media reports about Ms. Hansbrough's trips, Leslie Strohm and an NCAA representative had a telephone discussion on September 13, 2012. After that discussion, we provided to the NCAA the information we released earlier today."

The NCAA could be interested in Hansbrough’s hiring and work history because she joined the university while Tyler Hansbrough was just beginning his final season on the team, one that brought UNC-CH a national championship. If the hires were not proper, they could be considered evidence of a special benefit being given to her son, which would be a violation of NCAA rules.

Kane: 919-829-4861

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