Rock Hill fiasco takes dark turn for Panthers owner David Tepper

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper /

The farcical situation regarding the Rock Hill headquarters project has taken another concerning turn for Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper. 

It’s been a turbulent spell for David Tepper since he bought the Carolina Panthers from disgraced former owner Jerry Richardson. The billionaire hasn’t enjoyed a winning season during a downward spiral that saw the organization go from playoff contenders to bottom feeders under his leadership and it’s been one critical mistake after another.

Tepper’s decision to sign Matt Rhule to a seven-year, $62 million deal and give him full control of personnel move was a fatal move. Thankfully, this ended abruptly after Week 5 and the Panthers won’t be on the hook for much more money after he accepted a bumper contract to take over at Nebraska.

Patience is running out with Tepper among the fans. The promotion given to Steve Wilks is restoring a sense of pride and improved results on the field. but there are concerns about whether or not the owner’s unpredictability could become a complication this franchise cannot overcome long-term.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is under investigation

The fiasco surrounding the Panthers project in Rock Hill which was projected to be an Avengers-style headquarters is a laughing stock. With the project in ruins, bitterness still remains and an investigation into the public money acquired for the lame-duck proposal is officially underway.

According to multiple reports, Tepper and his real estate enterprise is being investigated for “circumstances surrounding the transfer to, and subsequent use of public money“. This is being conducted by York County with assistance from the Attorney General’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

This is related to the whopping $41 million in incentives Tepper received for the project, which was set to boost employment in the region considerably. GT Real Estate Holdings – the development firm of Carolina’s owner – filed for bankruptcy after spending a reported $141 million on initial construction before the plug was pulled.

A statement from GT Real Estate Holdings claimed everything was above board and Tepper settled with Rock Hill for the sum of $20 million earlier this year.

"“This is a straightforward commercial matter that is being fully resolved. The funds paid by the county were handled consistent with the terms of those contracts.”"

Regardless of which way this plays out, it’s another stain on Tepper’s reputation. The man who promised much to the Carolinas in terms of building an industry-leading NFL franchise but has delivered very little.

What the future holds regarding a new training complex has not been revealed by Tepper or the Panthers. The longer this cloud hangs over him, the longer it’ll take for this sorry chapter to close.

Pettiness is a trait associated with Tepper throughout his business life. That’s why he’ll likely fight tooth and nail with all he has to bring a satisfactory conclusion in his favor.

With a reported net worth of $18.5 billion, Tepper can prolong this for as long as he likes. But what’s important for fans is the owner not taking his eye off the ball and focusing on a strategy that finally gets Carolina back to prominence on and off the field.

Rock Hill fell by the wayside and there is a lot of blame to go around. However, it does nothing to convince people Tepper will ever be capable of coming through on his promises.

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