UNC, NC State Chancellors Snub Public, Donors About ACC Vote

UNC, NC State Chancellors Snub Public, Donors About ACC Vote

This is Part One in a series. Read Part Two here. Read Part Three here. Read Part Four here.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson think they can represent students and the taxpayers that pay their salaries, but that they don’t have to inform them how they bind their universities to decisions that harm their state’s economy and reputation.

In mid-September Folt and Woodson, as members of the Council of Presidents for the Atlantic Coast Conference, voted on the decision to remove all the league’s “neutral site” (that is, not on a school campus) sports championships out of the Tar Heel State because of the House Bill 2 “transgender bathroom” law. Both chancellors are keeping these deeply impactful and controversial votes a secret.

Both Folt and Woodson — whose pay exceeds $500,000 per year each, representing publicly-funded institutions — refuse to tell their bosses, the taxpayers, whether they voted for or against the removal of the championships. In a public records request, I attempted to obtain from both institutions — as well as the overseeing UNC System — all documents and communications pertaining to the chancellors’ decisions’ and votes.

The effort failed to reveal how Folt and Woodson voted, but it did show that both — along with their administrative lieutenants at each institution — have intentionally ignored the question from reporters and donors.

The Chesser Files wasn’t the first to ask how the university leaders voted. Jane Stancill, Andrew Carter, and Chip Alexander, reporters for The News & Observer, inquired with UNC and NC State about how Folt and Woodson voted. They got nothing more than an unrevealing, canned response developed by the universities’ communications departments.

Dwight Stone

Dwight Stone

The New York Times also contacted UNC trustees to inquire about the decision and “the unique position (UNC and NC State) must have been in.” Trustees were told by Chairman Dwight Stone to “respond nicely that I speak for the board.” Apparently a “nice” answer, without any worthwhile information, was of no interest to the Times reporter, who didn’t bother with a follow-up article after writing an initial story about the ACC’s decision.

Some alumni also wanted to know how Folt and Woodson voted.

“I have supported UNC almost every year since I graduated in 1974,” wrote Bob Stout. “Can you tell me how UNC voted with respect to removing the ACC Championships from NC?”

David Routh

David Routh

David Routh, Vice President for University Development at UNC, sought out advice about how to respond from Chancellor Folt’s Chief of Staff, Debbie Dibbert, and Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs, Joel Curran. Dibbert advised that Routh respond with, “discussions, deliberations and breakdown of votes are confidential. We can confirm it was a thoughtful and vigorous discussion and was not a unanimous vote.”

Routh apparently didn’t go with that, and hadn’t responded to Stout for five days after his initial question. So Stout asked Routh, “Are you going to respond to my email? If not, would you please direct me to the person who can answer my question?”

This time Dibbert referred Routh to university communications director Tanya Moore, who provided him a sanitized response for Stout:

Chancellor Folt and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson have said that they regretted the ACC’s decision to move all neutral site championships away from North Carolina for 2016-17 academic year because of House Bill 2. They both believe this will negatively affect many North Carolinians, especially in affected host communities.

Carolina remains committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment and ensuring that everyone in our community is treated with dignity and respect.

But Routh and UNC didn’t show any dignity and respect to Stout and other donors who wanted an answer about Folt’s vote on HB2. Public records obtained by The Chesser Files showed UNC and NC State officials went to great pains to craft messages and statements on behalf of Folt and Woodson, employing language that avoided the questions that reporters and donors wanted answered: Did the chancellors vote “yea” or “nay?”

Meanwhile ACC championships for women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, baseball and football were removed from North Carolina sites for the 2016-2017 academic year. The football championship, held earlier this month, was moved from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to Orlando. As a result the game had its lowest attendance in its history.

This is Part One in a series. Read Part Two here. Read Part Three here. Read Part Four here.


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  1. myowngrandpaw
    December 14, 13:37 Reply
    This is a teachable moment. The next time your public/private business refuses service to someone and the customer wants an answer as to why, just tell them it is a secret. Not allowing the ACC to host events in NC is refusing service (entertainment) to all North Carolinians. Yes, they "punished" the anti-HB2 crowd as well. On a secret vote, no explanations, PUBLIC universities refused service to a class of people, North Carolina residents. But they provided their services to OTHER states' residents. Use the UNC's Folt and NC State Woodson defense: It is a secret. Then you can refuse to give services to anyone you want.
  2. Rob
    December 14, 15:43 Reply
    If the NCAA (NBA, etc.) is so concerned, they should mandate that ALL NCAA schools and events MUST have transgender facilities.....
  3. Yond
    December 14, 17:08 Reply
    It's confidential or it's not. What's the law? If they're violating the law, sue. If they're not violating the law, change the law. Why should public officials be entitled to confidential votes? Drain the swamp. By the way, by giving Clintonesque answers, we know how they voted.
  4. OBXMV
    December 14, 18:17 Reply
    The schools that are in the ACC in NC that did nothing to prevent the moving of championship events hosted in NC by the ACC will get what they deserve in the end. I personally place some blame on coaches of these different teams for not making a peep when all this was being discussed. If we are not good enough for championships why are we in their conference at all? Money, that's why, and on top of that a lack of any morals! The NCAA and the ACC will never get another dime of my money or support!
  5. Bill Dollar
    December 15, 07:28 Reply
    The ACC leadership, including the Council of Presidents, is hypocritical because the ACC headquarters remains in the state of NC (Greensboro). If they truly believed that HB2 was discriminatory, they would have already started to relocate the headquarters and staff to a more favorable state that supports their position on transgender bathrooms.
  6. DT
    December 15, 11:16 Reply
    NCSU will never get another dime of my money until that pos is removed as chancellor.

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