CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Already bruised by scandals involving academic corner-cutting and improper gifts to football players, North Carolina's flagship public university is confronting a new problem: Allegations of improper travel spending.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Tuesday it had cut loose billion-dollar fundraiser Matt Kupec, a former star quarterback, over possibly improper travel spending. The questions arose from trips that Kupec, who is divorced, shared with another campus fundraiser who is the divorced mother of former Tar Heels basketball star Tyler Hansbrough, university officials said.
Kupec's relationship with Tami Hansbrough, another UNC-Chapel Hill fundraiser, came up during his job review a few months ago, campus Chancellor Holden Thorp said in an interview Tuesday. That led to questions about trips they had taken together, Thorp said.
"I began to ask Mr. Kupec for information about his trips and I started getting information about the trips he had gone on with Ms. Hansbrough," Thorp said. "I came to the conclusion that a number of the trips that he had taken were personally driven — that is that there may have been business conducted but they were set up because of personal interests."
The red flags were whether the pair's travels included destinations where Tami Hansbrough's younger son, Ben Hansbrough, was playing basketball for Notre Dame, Thorp said. Thorp wouldn't say how many trips they shared, but said the travel costs came from university donations or other fundraising foundation sources and not taxpayers.
Kupec resigned Sunday after being questioned about the trips, Thorp said. The university started an audit of all travel-related expenses on Tuesday, Thorp said.
"I think we'll be looking at a number of travel expenses for executives in the university just so that we can be sure we've found anything we've needed to find," Thorp said.
Kupec issued a statement that didn't address the reasons for his resignation, but expressed his pride in leading fundraising campaigns that had raised $4 billion in private gifts for the university.
"I will miss you all but in my heart I will always be a part of the Carolina family," said Kupec, who served as vice chancellor for advancement for 16 years. His annual salary was $349,800. Kupec was the Tar Heels' starting quarterback for four years in the 1970s and was named Most Valuable Player in the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl, according to his university biography.