Travel review prompts Hansbrough's mother to resign from UNC

Posted September 12, 2012 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated September 13, 2012 12:43 p.m. EDT

— A review of travel expenses by the former top fundraiser at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has led to a second resignation at the school.

Tami Hansbrough stepped down Wednesday from her job as major gifts officer at UNC. She held the $95,000-a-year job since February 2011 and was placed on administrative leave on Monday.

Auditors are reviewing the records of former Vice Chancellor for Advancement Matt Kupec, who resigned Monday after working for more than 20 years as a UNC fundraiser.

Chancellor Holden Thorp said some of Kupec's trips appeared "personally driven" and noted Hansbrough, the mother of former UNC All-America basketball player Tyler Hansbrough, accompanied him on many of the trips.

Sources have told WRAL News that Kupec and Tami Hansbrough are dating.

"I’m very disappointed that the people that I trusted – the person that I trusted in particular – didn’t do things the right way and didn’t tell me when I asked about it,” Thorp said.

Thorp said Kupec assured him that there were no issues about his travel with Tami Hansbrough, but questionable records continued to mount.

The internal audit is looking at whether fundraising trips corresponded to UNC basketball games when Tyler Hansbrough played for the Tar Heels and to Notre Dame and Mississippi State games when his brother, Ben Hansbrough, played for those schools.

"Obviously, we can match (the travel schedule) up with the basketball schedule," Thorp said. "What we are concerned about is that they went to see Tami’s sons play basketball and that, you know, there might have been some business conducted. But it’s not clear which one determined where they were going and when.”

University officials said Kupec and Tami Hansbrough traveled together 28 times between 2010 and this year. Destinations included New York, Dallas, Atlanta, San Diego and college towns like Charlottesville, Va., Louisville, Ky., and Morgantown, W.Va.

The UNC-CH Foundation paid for the trips, and no taxpayer money was used, Thorp said.

Kupec helped create Tami Hansbrough's fundraising position, Thorp said.

She was hired in 2008 to work with a foundation at UNC's School of Dentistry, and Kupec later sought to hire her for a fundraising position in his office. Thorp said he warned Kupec about violating UNC's nepotism policy, and a similar position was suddenly created in the Office of Student Affairs.

"I do believe that Matt went to Winston (Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs) and suggested that the position be created," Thorp said.

"When it was created, I talked to Winston about making sure that we followed all of our processes and that the committee selected the best candidate, and I made sure that he felt that he was completely free to select the best candidate," he said, adding that the search committee unanimously recommended Tami Hansbrough for the job.

Tami Hansbrough "raised good money" both for the School of Dentistry and UNC, he said, but that doesn't change the fact that the university needs to tighten up its travel policies.

"I'm furious about what happened," he said. "I’m going to get this stuff straightened out. I’m going to get it cleaned up, and we are going to go back to talking about what a great university this is.”