In wake of popular UNCA coach’s departure, questions about chancellor’s leadership


UNC Asheville men’s basketball coach, Eddie Biedenbach, a successful and beloved fixture at the school over the past 17 years, recently announced he was leaving for an assistant’s job in Wilmington. His sudden departure for what appears to be a lesser job has raised questions about why, and what was going on behind the scenes.

Asheville Citizen-Times sports reporter Keith Jarrett wrote about Biedenbach’s legacy and touched on one possibility:

Biedenbach grew weary of battling Cone and chancellor Anne Ponder over money issues, and the role the two administrators played in almost costing the Bulldogs home-court advantage in the 2012 BSC tournament damaged their relationships with the veteran coach.

Here’s more background about that controversy regarding the 2012 BSC tournament, which really appeared to me to be a major slight of Biedenbach and all he’s done for UNCA. In a nutshell, here’s what happened: Cone and Ponder waived the right to host the conference championship game, even though the Bulldogs had a great team and were looking to return to the NCAA tournament.

Now, an Ashvegas commenter reports that “Biedenbach and Bulldog fans may not be the only ones weary of the current UNCA administration. Faculty and staff may also be concerned but are fearful.” Someone has set up a public, unauthorized survey here asking people for feedback on Ponder’s performance. From the survey intro:

As you may know, University of North Carolina at Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder is receiving an official periodic evaluation by President Tom Ross of the University of North Carolina. This unauthorized survey has no official role in that evaluation. Members of the community are seeking feedback outside the UNC process. If you wish the results of this survey to be shared with anyone, please indicate so in your comments. This survey will remain open through April 2013.

Click here to take the survey of UNCA Chancellor Anne Ponder.

Image link for UNCA Chancellor Anne Ponder.


Nick picked: UNC Asheville names McDevitt new men's basketball coach April 26, 2013 - 5:27 pm

[…] sudden decision to leave UNCA for an assistant coaching job at UNC Wilmington. Background here and […]

George Thomas April 23, 2013 - 8:12 pm

Sigh – Chancellor Ponder is simply milking the system. At near $250,000 a year, with a house, a car, etc. provided by the taxpayers, she is prepared to leave UNCA as the least popular chancellor in the school’s history. With over $1,000,000 in the bank thanks to the citizens of NC, she’ll cry all the way to the bank (or to her home in Mountain Air or her home in Florida). Even her most ardent supporters (KF, BB, JP, CO, BH) will privately tell you the emporeress has no clothes and her only leadership qualities are the abilities to fire people who disagree with her. You stay classy UNC Asheville.

Ivyleague April 24, 2013 - 8:08 am

Agree with Mr. Thomas. This school is being poorly run and losing so many talented people because they might disagree.
University departments have so many managers and no one to do the actual work.

The school has lost my respect because it treats the lower employees/staff with little regard.

Curious April 23, 2013 - 9:29 am

“Faculty and staff may also be concerned but are fearful.”
What are faculty and staff concerned about? What are they fearful of?

Radio Follower April 22, 2013 - 10:11 pm

Big Al…Care to back up your opinion with facts? Or, can we just skip that and move on to you being ignorant on this topic?

Murphy April 22, 2013 - 2:45 pm

Hey Big AL …

UNCA is continually ranked and lauded by numerous publications and higher learning watchdogs …

Here is a link that lists just a few from the last several years.

Scroll down to the “Kudos” section …

and in addition to potters and poets, UNCA graduates have become meterologists, teachers, governmental officials, law enforcement officers and many other professionals as well …

Dave April 22, 2013 - 5:40 pm

Sounds like “Big Al” is a little jealous of folks with a college education???

Britt April 22, 2013 - 2:03 pm

The following quoted text is from an email sent out by Provost Fernandes on April 16. I’d guess all UNCA alumni reachable via email received this.

“The University of North Carolina Asheville has asked Stamats, a higher education research and consulting firm, to help us understand current perceptions of University programs and offerings among a variety of audiences. As part of this process, we would like to hear from you.

Within the next few days, you will be receiving an email from Natasha Ivanova ( at Stamats with the subject line “University of North Carolina Asheville – We Need Your Input” asking for your participation in a survey on graduate programming.

We hope you will be able to take a few minutes to complete this survey. As we begin to explore this important topic, we value your opinions and consider your feedback very important to our success.

Thank you in advance for your participation in this project. Please keep an eye on your email inbox!

Jane K. Fernandes, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs”

Jason Sandford April 22, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Thanks Britt.

Jason Sandford April 22, 2013 - 2:30 pm

The survey you reference appears to be a different survey than the one that was referenced by the earlier commenter.

Fuck Off April 22, 2013 - 1:32 pm

To “Big Al” the Atrocious Abomination of a Gaping Asshole (see above ^),

Happy Earth Day, Numb Nuts! Just to address a few things in your simple-minded, snarky comment: UNCA has more than an art department. NO WAY? OMG IT’S A UNIVERSITY? It’s in the name. While I’m sure you didn’t attend this school, your poorly-developed description of this institution also leads me to believe that you haven’t spent more than an hour on campus.

Long story short, ya suck and I’m not going to spend more than a minute on this comment. But thanks for not being sexist with your welfare comment, prick!

Again, happy fucking earth day.

Big Al April 22, 2013 - 1:04 pm

“Biedenbach grew weary of battling Cone and chancellor Anne Ponder over money issues…”

Generally, I am not a fan of UNC-A, which only spawns poets, potters and other artsy, unemployable, and entitled welfare queens (yes, I mean the guys, too).

This time, however, I must say Kudos! Collegiate sports has become a monolithic influence on higher education, reducing our colleges to nothing more than the minor leagues of sports that do not have them, specifically basketball and football. Educators in serious career fields must grovel for scraps from the table of athletic director,coaches, and a bunch of jocks who seldom do more than earn Cs in Criminal Justice, and even then they need tutors and grade-fixing!

I hope more college administators will give the heave-ho to the jock-ocracy and force sports off campus and into their own minor leagues.

But I am not holding my breath.

kmcmoobud April 22, 2013 - 1:33 pm

Wow, what an overly generalized, and inaccurate statement: ” which only spawns poets, potters and other artsy, unemployable, and entitled welfare queens (yes, I mean the guys, too)”.

A April 22, 2013 - 1:56 pm

Sir, I take offense to your reply. You’re adhering to stereotypes of collegiate sports, and lumping all student athletes into the group of highly publicized cases of the ones that take advantage of the system. There are plenty of hard working, GOOD students out there that play sports for their schools, on scholarship or not.

And while sports programs may be one of the first things you hear about a school, they certainly have their place. UNCA’s sports program isn’t quite the influential player on the college itself that you suggest it to be. And even in the bigger universities where such could be argued the case (like Title-9 schools) those programs are mostly self-sufficient. Look at schools like LSU where the athletic programs are actually DONATING money to the schools to cover funding lost from state cuts so they don’t lose their programs.

Also, for your slight on UNCA and the degree of students that the university churns out? Shame on you. Those students work hard, and a majority of them are certainly not potters or poets. They’re scientists and mathematicians. They’re computer programmers, musicians, teachers and new media artists. They come out of that school with high-quality training to make them marketable to jobs. They’re certainly not “unemployable” and “entitled welfare-queens”. Your snap judgement is hurtful and based in stereotype on the fact that UNCA is a liberal arts college. It’s an institution of high-learning, and a damn good one, and you should respect that.

Smytty April 22, 2013 - 7:00 pm

Big Al is quickly outing himself as a Big Troll on this board.

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