October 20, 2015

Here’s a suggestion for the Board of Governors as they search for a new President. Please. No more golden parachutes at UNC.

Unfortunately, the BOG’s recent history isn’t encouraging on fiscal prudence, but first recall a recent sorry episode.

Some folks are still shaking their heads about the millions of dollars former UNC football coach Butch Davis walked away with in 2011 when he was canned in the midst of the no show African-American studies scandal.

Despite NCAA investigations and questions about what Davis knew and when he knew it, UNC administration avoided the possibility of lawsuits by paying off Coach Davis. “Because the exit of Davis was deemed to be “without cause,” he is entitled to a buyout package that guarantees him $933,500 and could net him as much as $2,703,500.”

Under the deal, UNC was left on the hook paying Davis until early 2015.

A few months after getting the ax at UNC, Davis jumped to the NFL, becoming a special adviser to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, structuring the deal so he could keep getting paid by UNC for not coaching. “As part of his contract with UNC, Davis is entitled to $2.7 million in buyout monies for being let go “without cause” so long as he does not accept another coaching position. His role with Tampa Bay as an “advisor” opens up the opportunity for Davis to continue receiving annual payments of $590,000 every Jan. 15 from 2013-15 as well as gain employment compensation from the Buccaneers, although the details were not immediately known.”

With this big money booboo in mind, let’s return to the search for a UNC President.

As the lawyer for former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque should be an expert on golden parachutes for executives who screw up.

After steering Bank of America into the rocks with his ill timed and devastating acquisitions of Countrywide Credit and Merrill Lynch, Lewis took the fall in grand style, exiting with $83 million in his pocket while stockholders took a licking from which they have never recovered.

UNC certainly doesn’t need a Butch Davis or Ken Lewis style golden parachute for the next UNC President. But incredibly, Chairman Fennebresque’s Board foolishly gave President Ross a $50,000 raise even as they showed him the door.

And while they were on a money wasting roll, the Board approved higher pay ranges for university bigwigs, new rules allowing severance packages (golden parachutes) and potentially a $1 million deal for the next President.

John Fennebresque is comfortable in the airy world of Charlotte bankers where millions are tossed around like dimes and everybody is too big to fail. But the taxpayers and students who pay the bills at UNC aren’t.

Chairman Fennebresque and the Board should realize that taxpayers and students demand and deserve accountability, not sweetheart deals like we see in corporate America and college athletics.

The Board of Governors must be fiscally responsible with taxpayers money. No golden parachutes should be on the table.