UNC system universities would have to release records of any communications with the NCAA, ACC or other athletic organization under a bill that passed the N.C. Senate Tuesday in a 37-12 vote.
Senate Bill 323 would make it clear that those email exchanges and other documents sent between the organizations are public records and must be released upon request.
“I already thought they were public records, but as I have learned, there is some question as to that fact,” said Sen. Michael Lee, a Wilmington Republican and the bill’s sponsor.
In his brief floor speech, Lee didn’t mention the ACC and NCAA boycotts of North Carolina when House Bill 2 was in effect. But the sports organizations have been under increased scrutiny from legislators because of those decisions. Both organizations moved championship events out of North Carolina because of discrimination concerns, although future games will be played in the state after legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper changed the law.
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The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton, has said the public record change stems from the HB2 boycott issue.
While the chancellor of Duke University said he voted in favor of the boycotts, the chancellors of N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill refused to say how they voted, saying only that “it was a thoughtful and vigorous discussion and was not a unanimous vote.”
A House bill also addresses the transparency issue. Republican Rep. Mark Brody’s bill would require any UNC system leader or staff member who serves on a board or committee for an intercollegiate athletic association, such as the ACC and NCAA, to disclose their votes – unless the vote involves a legal settlement or personnel matter.
That bill, which hasn’t gotten a hearing, would also file a complaint with the IRS arguing that the ACC and NCAA engaged in lobbying that violated their nonprofit status.
Lee’s UNC public records bill now goes to the House.