David Tepper has had an eventful year amid Rock Hill saga

David Tepper has had an eventful year.

The Carolina Panthers owner has made numerous headlines for his company’s ongoing legal saga over a failed development in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The project — a new practice facility and headquarters for the Charlotte-based NFL franchise — was declared “dead” shortly after construction was halted in March and has sparked lawsuits and attention from investigators.

The team’s on-the-field performance also hasn’t earned Tepper any friends, with a poor start to the season for the Panthers leading to a mid-season coaching change.

Here’s a look at five key moments in the Tepper saga over the course of recent months:

April: Rock Hill project declared ‘dead’

Weeks after construction was halted on the Panthers’ Rock Hill complex, sparking a series of allegations and legal issues, sources told the Charlotte Observer the project was “dead.”

That claim came after Tepper’s real estate company issued a statement saying they’d terminated their agreement with Rock Hill to build the facility.

At the time, the Panthers accused Rock Hill of reneging on contractual obligations while the city said the team was being “misleading and erroneous.”

June: Tepper company files for bankruptcy

By June, Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the defunct Rock Hill project.

The company said in filings it owed nearly $50 million, including almost $48 million to creditors Mascaro and Barton Malow, the general construction contractors in charge of the site, and York County, South Carolina.

October: Matt Rhule out as Panthers head coach

A poor start to the 2022 season led the Tepper and the Panthers to make a midseason coaching change in October.

Head coach Matt Rhule was fired after posting a 1-4 start to the year and 11-27 overall record.

“I think that we have to figure out how to get a culture of winning here, which we haven’t had in a long time in this place,” Tepper said at the time. “And as I said at some point, we’ve never have won — this town, this team — has never had two winning seasons (in a row). So, I don’t think it ever had a really culture of winning. So, how do you develop that culture of winning, between players, coaches and the rest? And, look, like I said, you have to understand the resources you have and try to get the best resources you have — so that’s a question of looking over the roster you have right now, trying how to figure out how you can have the best roster in the future.”

Defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Steve Wilks — a Charlotte native — was named interim coach and has since led the team to a 3-4 record.

November: York County, Tepper company reach tentative agreement

After months of lawsuits, countersuits and contentious court hearings, GT Real Estate Holdings and York County announced in late November they’d reached a tentative settlement.

Details of the settlement were not made public.

GT and the city of Rock Hill also reached a $20 million settlement earlier in the month, and GT Real Estate and contractors also previously tentatively agreed to a $60 million settlement.

December: York County’s money transfer to Tepper companies under investigation

In early December, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division confirmed it is investigating money transferred from York County to Tepper-owned companies.

The investigation began in November at the request of South Carolina’s attorney general, the York County sheriff and York County’s top prosecutor, SLED said.

GT Real Estate in a statement in response to SLED’s announcement questioned its timing, just a day after the tentative settlement was announced.

“It would be unfortunate if the recently announced settlement between GTRE and York County were somehow undermined by politically motivated leaks. The timing of these leaks is all the more curious in light of this settlement,” GT’s statement said.

Observer reporters Jonathan M. Alexander, Scott Fowler, Michael Gordon and Mike Kaye and Rock Hill Herald reporter Andrew Dys contributed to the reporting of this story.

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Mary Ramsey is a service journalism reporter with The Charlotte Observer. A native of the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

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