Donors set deadline for Thorp records request
Posted September 16, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A public records request filed by a group of donors to the University of North Carolina seeking correspondence between Chancellor Holden Thorp and various people close to the decision to fire head football coach Butch Davis, has gone unfulfilled more than a month later.
The initial request was filed Aug. 8 by a group of donors that signed on to help fund an upgrade to the UNC's Kenan Stadium. Many of the donors to the "Blue Zone" upgrade say they committed to the project with the assurance that Davis would remain head football coach.
Don Brown, one of five attorneys for the investors, says the group is citing possible fraud, alleging that Thorp waited to terminate Davis until after the donations were secured.
Brown was the representing attorney that drafted Friday's letter that further requested the emails, text messages and cell phone records be released.
The letter reads in part: "We know the request was received, not only because we have a facsimile confirmation receipt, but because the University acknowledged in response to media requests that it had been received, and also because you apparently acknowledged to WRAL television, while at an NCAA meeting in Indianapolis, that you received the request and that you would comply with it.."
The follow-up letter delivered Friday from the attorney's representing the group gave Thorp one week to respond to the request before further legal action is pursued.
The letter continued, "While we are certainly prepared to be reasonable, and to a degree patient with regard to a timeframe for responses, we are very disappointed that not only have we received no documents as requested, but to date, we have not even received a response."
North Carolina state law does not require a specific date of delivery of requested public record, but does demand the delivery be "as promptly as possible."
The attorneys, Brown, Matthew J. Dixon, J. Scott Hampton, Mark A. Johnson and Ray Smith III are all UNC alumni. They said they will make a determination on whether or not to follow through on the lawsuit after going over the requested information. Brown added that they are doing the work pro bono.
Chancellor Thorp said during a press conference on July 28 that it was his decision to fire Davis despite no new evidence that linked the former coach to an ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program. The investigation involves academic improprieties and agent relationships among accusations.
Since the firing, there has been much discussion over the relationship between RAMS Club members who donated to the newly constructed Blue Zone and have asked to be released from their membership. In August, Kenneth Plusnick made multiple attempts to cancel his membership but was deferred and he was told they would get back to him.
Everett Withers was named the interim head coach a week before the start of fall practice and has led the Tar Heels to a 2-0 start.