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The Daily Tar Heel

BOG Member Handles Questions of Ethics

Judi Grainger, owner of Custom Travel Services, began handling the Wolfpack's air travel shortly after her husband, Frank, was appointed to the BOG in March 1997, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Tuesday.

She has since handled more than $930,000 worth of N.C. State travel, despite not having to bid against other agencies and having no experience handling college teams, The News & Observer reported.

But the Graingers and university officials have said the travel agency obtained the school's business fairly.

Judi Grainger said Tuesday that her agency's deal with N.C. State was completely independent from her husband's BOG post.

"My husband has nothing to do with my company," Grainger said. "I offered (N.C. State's athletics department) a better value for their money,"

Grainger also said her agency did, in fact, bid against 40 other travel companies to gain N.C. State's business - conflicting with the claim that the agency was given the account without doing so.

UNC-system President Molly Broad said Dick Robinson, general counsel for the system, looked into the issue several weeks ago and determined that there was no issue of illegality.

Frank Grainger said he told the BOG and its former chairman when his wife started working with the school.

As one of 32 members of the UNC Board of Governors, Frank Grainger is not obligated to disclose his personal and family financial interests. As long as they avoid directly voting on transactions with themselves, board members are free under state law to do business with the 16 universities they oversee.

Government officials and members of state boards are required by the North Carolina Board of Ethics to report their financial dealings and those of their immediate families, but those rules do not apply to the Board of Governors. The board's ethics policy makes recommendations, but they are not binding.

"We have in no way either used my position or insinuated or anything else," Frank Grainger said. "Judi runs her business totally outright. I don't sit on her board, I don't do anything."

Frank Grainger is named as a member of Custom Travel's board of directors in annual reports filed since 1997 with the N.C. Secretary of State's office. Grainger said he wasn't aware he had been listed as a director.

Custom Travel had its first booking with N.C. State's athletics department three months after Grainger was named to the board, for $1,757. The agency had $3,797 more in fiscal 1997-98 before it started handling most of the department's business the next year.

Judi Grainger said she earns no profit from her N.C. State business and "probably ought to give it up."

Bob Rube, president of International Travel Group in Raleigh, said he handled most of the department's travel for nearly 20 years before losing its business to Grainger.

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