University of Alabama Giving Back $21.5 Million After Dispute With Donor: Administrators

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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The University of Alabama decided Friday it will return $21.5 million to its biggest donor and remove his name off of its law school after administrators said he was trying to direct how the funds will be used.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., a Florida lawyer and investor, donated $26.5 million in September 2018, which was the largest donation in the history of the college. Culverhouse reportedly wanted the university to be included in a boycott against the abortion laws Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed May 15. They are considered to be the most restrictive in the country. Doctors are not allowed to perform abortions unless it is absolutely necessary for the mother’s health, and breaking the law could result in up to 99 years in prison for doctors.

The school’s board of trustees made the decision to give back $21.5 million, and within hours University of Alabama grounds crew members were removing Culverhouse’s name from the law school, which had been named after him, NPR reported. (RELATED: Top University Of Alabama Donor Wants Out-Of-State Students To Stay Away From The School Over Abortion Law)

The university said the issue at hand was about how his donation would be used, not about the abortion law. Culverhouse allegedly asked for $10 million back and was trying to make decisions about how the donation would be spent, according to a memo from Chancellor Finis St. John IV, according to The New York Times.

“The action taken by the Board today was a direct result of Mr. Culverhouse’s ongoing attempts to interfere in the operations of the Law School,” said Kellee Reinhart, the university‘s vice chancellor for Communication, according to NPR. “That was the only reason the Board voted to remove his name and return his money.”

Culverhouse, however, said he never asked for the $21.5 million to be returned, NPR reported, and that the university is trying “to silence” his opinions.

“I expected this response from UA,” Culverhouse said according to NPR. “I will not allow my family’s name to be associated with an educational system that advocates a state law which discriminates against women, disregards established Federal law and violates our Constitution.”

Culverhouse was born in Alabama, and his parents were athletes at the University of Alabama. He has previously given donations to the school, including one for over $2 million toward women’s golf scholarships.

“This is a civil rights issue that has been important to my family for many years,” Culverhouse said, according to NPR.

The University of Alabama did not immediately return a request for comment.

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