The UNC Charlotte Student Senate, which acts as the representatives of the student body, is weighing whether to push back on the Board of Trustees decision to keep Jerry Richardson’s name on the university’s football stadium.
Questions of whether the former Carolina Panthers owner’s name would remain have been up in the air since December, when allegations of racial slurs and sexual misconduct against Richardson surfaced. Following the announcement of Richardson’s $2.75 million fine by the NFL in June, UNC Charlotte officials announced in August the Board of Trustees had unanimously decided to honor the naming rights agreement.
Richardson agreed to donate $10 million to the university in return for his name on the $40 million stadium. He’s paying that in annual increments of $1 million from 2013, when the team was established, until 2022.
At its Thursday meeting, the Student Senate read a resolution which would publicly state the organization is against the board’s decision if passed. The bill will be reread and voted on at the next meeting this Thursday. It would ask the board to reconsider its decision as well as request public and open meetings be held on the issue.
Trustees reached their consensus during a closed session teleconference with its 13-members, including one student, Niayai Lavien, the student body president.
“We discussed all our options and at the end of the day, we picked the best decision that we feel like was in the best interest of the university,” Lavien said at the Senate meeting.
Kyra Durham, a senator who works in Admissions, said Niner Guides are not using Jerry Richardson’s name when referring to the stadium during campus tours.
“We don’t support the fact that he did what he did,” she added.
A school policy reads if an “individual for whom a facility is named in conduct that is injurious to the reputation of the university,” the name may be removed.
Also on the public’s mind was whether the 13-foot statue of Richardson would stay outside the Bank of America Stadium entrance. David Tepper, the new Carolina Panthers owner, says his purchase agreement included a requirement the statue not be moved.
At least four former Panthers employees received financial settlements for their silence, according to a Sports Illustrated report that revealed details of the allegations. It describes “Jean Day” on Fridays when Richardson would ask female employees to turn around so he could admire and make comments. He was also said to have used racial slurs against an African-American scout.
Following the allegations, Richardson announced plans to sell the team. Tepper bought it in July for $2.275 billion.
An NFL statement said the investigation found “no information” that would “discredit the claims made or that would undermine the veracity of the employees who made those claims.”
The majority of Richardson’s fine will be donated to organizations that address race and gender-based issues.