On June 18, the Student Senate conveyed for a special session where they passed the Stadium Renaming Act, applying pressure to the University to “explore the option of renaming the Jerry Richardson Football Stadium.”
This resolution was passed shortly after the removal of the Jerry Richardson statue from the Panthers Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The Bank of America Stadium said the decision was made in the best interest of public safety, fearing Black Lives Matter demonstrators would topple the statue in protest of Richardson's record of racist and sexist behavior.
Richardson was the founder and former owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers from 1995 until 2018, when Richardson sold the team to David Tepper after a Sports Illustrated article exposed the allegations of misconduct towards his female employees and Black colleagues.
Richardson was accused of using racial slurs as well as conducting a “Jean Day” where he would comment inappropriately on his female employees.
Richard “Dick” Beekman, the primary sponsor for the act, told the Niner Times, “UNC Charlotte has stated their commitment to creating an inclusive campus where all students can feel safe and included, regardless of their race or gender. This legislation is important in my opinion because it reaffirms Student Government’s commitment to upholding those values on behalf of all students. Through his alleged actions, Jerry Richardson has shown that he does not share those same values.”
The University is currently in a legal agreement with Richardson after a 2013 deal contracted Richardson to pay $10 million for several perks including the stadium bearing his name. After protests from the UNC Charlotte community following the 2018 allegation leak, the University stated that they would not change the name.
Today there is a petition on Change.org calling for the removal of not only the stadium, but any UNC Charlotte or UNC System building named after racists. The petition had nearly 6000 signatures as of June 24.
The Stadium Renaming Act urges the University to reach out to Richardson and discuss the potential renaming.
Beekman stated, “I hope that as a result of this legislation, the University reaches out to Mr. Richardson’s legal representation and that both sides engage in serious discussions about the possibility of renaming the stadium to honor someone who is more reflective of the values that we hold in such high regards here at UNC Charlotte.”
In a June 16 statement to the Niner Times, spokeswoman Buffie Stephens affirmed that the University will not consider removing the name. The University has not since responded to the Student Senate's resolution.