Investigations

Firm charges UNC $1.65 million for PR on fraud scandal, other work

The amount of money UNC is spending on outside public relations in the wake of the academic fraud scandal is crossing past $2 million.

A copy of the contract provided under a public records request shows Edelman will receive more than $1.65 million for public relations services over the period of a year, ending April 30, 2015. The contract is not specific as to what kinds of services the firm will provide, but UNC officials confirmed last month that at least 14 employees from the firm worked on the public release of former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein’s report on the scandal.

Wainstein’s report confirmed that the scandal had its roots in keeping athletes eligible to play sports, particularly in the revenue sports of basketball and football. Nearly half of the 3,100 students who took the fraudulent classes in the long-running scheme were athletes.

UNC had previously spent roughly $500,000 combined on two other firms and a public relations consultant.

Joel Curran, UNC’s vice chancellor of communications and public affairs, said Edelman’s work goes beyond responding to the academic scandal. He said the firm, which bills itself as the world’s largest, is also helping the university revamp its overall communications strategy.

Just like the other public relations work, Edelman’s costs will not be covered with state funds or tuition dollars, UNC officials say.

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