The public relations costs for UNC as it seeks to manage the fallout from the long-running academic-athletic scandal continue to climb. A firm hired several months ago to help with the scandal and other communications efforts has billed the school $782,000.
Edelman identifies itself as the world’s largest public relations firm. Last week, the News & Observer reported that the firm had at least 14 employees assigned to work the response to a blistering report by a former top U.S. Justice Department official that found the scandal was largely driven by the need to keep athletes eligible to play sports.
On Wednesday, Rick White, a UNC spokesman, provided the cost so far to the university. Edelman began working for UNC in May as part of a revamping of the university’s communications efforts, said Joel Curran, UNC’s vice chancellor of communications and public affairs.
White said in an email that Edelman is not being paid from taxpayer-supported funds.
“Edelman supports UNC-Chapel Hill’s management of media relations, content creation (digital, social media and websites), strategic services (such as video production), internal communications, and other related areas,” White wrote. “Many universities engage public relations agencies for a range of services.”
The university had previously spent $500,000 on public relations efforts related to the scandal. The Fleishman-Hillard firm received the biggest chunk, $367,000; Doug Sosnik, a National Basketball Association consultant, received $144,000; and Sheehan Associates of Washington, D.C., received nearly $20,000 for work performed on “two occasions,” according to the university. UNC’s privately funded foundation picked up those tabs.