UNC foundation: Early Hansbrough trips approved

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

CHAPEL HILL (AP) — The University of North Carolina foundation that first employed fundraiser Tami Hansbrough released information indicating that trips the mother of former Tar Heels basketball star Tyler Hansbrough took following the team’s road to a 2009 national championship were later ruled legitimate.
Dental Foundation of North Carolina executive director Paul Gardner said late Thursday he won’t release a Greensboro auditing firm’s 2009 review of spending by foundation staffers. Gardner instead provided a summary of the report. The audit led to the exit of the previous head of the foundation, which raises money for the university’s dental school.
Hansbrough this week resigned her $95,000-a-year fundraising job after questions about spending on trips she took with top university fundraiser Matt Kupec. She had been suspended with pay this week as the school looked into whether the pair improperly spent donated money for travel to watch Hansbrough’s younger son Ben play basketball for Notre Dame in 2011.
Before her most recent job, Tami Hansbrough was hired by the foundation that serves UNC-CH’s dental school in late 2008, months before her son led North Carolina’s men’s basketball team to its latest championship. Tyler Hansbrough now plays for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. Ben Hansbrough played last season in Germany and Slovenia.
The summary indicates Tami Hansbrough traveled to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Atlanta in March 2009 and an NCAA regional championship in Memphis, Tenn., later that month. Both trips were approved as legitimate fundraising efforts in June 2009, after Hansbrough explained the business purpose for spending $401.70 with Southwest Airlines and hotel charges of $722.07 for the Memphis trip.
The summary provided by Gardner said Hansbrough was one of three finalists from among 41 applicants for the foundation fundraising position posted in October 2008.

University Chancellor Holden Thorp declined to say in an interview Tuesday how many trips Kupec and Hansbrough jointly took, but said the travel costs came from university donations or other fundraising foundation sources, not taxpayers. Kupec, who served as vice chancellor for advancement for 16 years, was paid $349,800 a year.

The questions over travel spending follow two years of troubles for the elite public university.

The NCAA investigated players under former then-coach Butch Davis having contact with agents and receiving jewelry and other gifts; Davis has since been fired. The NCAA in March imposed a one-year ban from postseason play, 15 forfeited scholarships and other penalties on the football team. But the probe also found academic fraud — including a tutor who worked on football players’ term papers.

Subsequent investigations found academic fraud including changed grades, no-show classes and lightly supervised independent studies in a department popular among UNC athletes. State criminal investigators are looking into signs of possible forgery, conspiracy, fraud, and whether a professor was paid for summer courses he didn’t fully teach.