Coastal Carolina University was set to receive a $95 million donation in 2020, the largest gift in its history, but the anonymous donor backed out months later. Now an investigation by The Myrtle Beach Sun News has found that the donor changed course because he felt disrespected by university officials, accusing them of racism, which they have denied.
Though the university shielded the name of the donor to honor his request for anonymity, the Sun News identified him as Gregory Gerami, a Black businessman who owns a company in Alabama.
According to an interview with the outlet, Gerami’s motivations for the $95 million gift were unusual. He had no ties to Coastal Carolina but told the newspaper that he made the donation because he had “tax things” to offset and was dating someone affiliated with the university.
Gerami said it wasn’t his tenuous ties to the university that made him back off but rather interactions that he believed were racist—which were not detailed in the report—and inappropriate personal questions from officials that he felt were not relevant to the donation.
“I just decided enough is enough, and this isn’t working for me,” Gerami told the newspaper. “I have no ill feelings toward Coastal. I just think we were doing too much and weren’t dating long enough to be spending that kind of money on dates, if that makes any sense.”
Though the total gift was worth $95 million, $38.5 million was slated to be donated immediately, with the remainder organized as part of Gerami’s will, to be paid out upon his death, according to information unearthed by the Sun News via Freedom of Information Act requests.
While CCU announced it has severed ties with the donor, Gerami suggested that Coastal Carolina remains in his will for now.
“If I die tomorrow, and the bank or lawyer or our estate calls, and the lawyer or banker says, ‘Hey, there’s $95 million for you,’ they would take it,” Gerami told the newspaper. “I promise you that.”