Sullivan resignation from UVA: was it due to a would-be Michael Mann appointment?

The resignation of UVA president Teresa Sullivan may soon break free of being a Charlottesville-only story. At present, the Board of Visitors remains tight-lipped about why Sullivan was asked to go.

However, Anthony Watts, over at Watts Up With That, has an explosive theory:

Readers may recall my earlier report on the strange weekend ouster of UVa president Teresa Sullivan last week where I suggested there might be a Michael Mann connection because supposedly he was offered the Kington chair, and the fellow whose name is on it allegedly called the emergency weekend stealth meeting leaving some board members behind. UVa has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting FOIA requests from the American Tradition Institute and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for Mann’s emails related to his publication of MBH98 done while at UVa, and from what I hear, this issue has been very unpopular with some alumni and has resulted in some fund raising issues under Sullivan’s tenure.

Now, in the middle of this turmoil, word on the street is that Michael Mann will not get the Kington Chair.

Now, Watts has very good ears when it comes to the dark politics of global warming alarmism, but last I checked, he’s still in California, so the ears (and that street) would have to be pretty long. Climate Depot had the original story about the would-be Mann appointment.

At this point, it should be noted that we just have Watts’ “ear,” so take with an grain (or if you prefer, a lotswife) of salt. It should also be noted that Kington has fallen on his sword (figuratively) and resigned himself. However, if what Watts has heard regarding the Sullivan de facto firing is correct…

1) UVA’s Board had an obligation to send Sullivan packing, and Dragas, Kington, et al deserve high praise for having the guts to do it. The idea that the University would do everything it can to slow down the AG’s investigation into possible fraud by Mann and then offer his the Kington Chair is, at best, ungodly fishy; it may even be a conflict of interest.

2) Perhaps the Board will push harder and have the University reverse course on fighting the investigation.

3) It would certainly explain the Board’s willingness not to go public with the reason (although it doesn’t justify it). According to CD, the department faculty voted to bring Mann back. If anyone thinks they’re upset about Sullivan’s departure now, check out their reaction if it was driven by a Board that had finally had enough of the nonsense behind global warming alarmism.

4) Anyone yelling at Governor McDonnell for his “role” in this should pipe down, pronto. Never mind that Dragas was a Kaine appointee – and the fact that an intervention by the Governor now would mean just the kind of political interference the left usually hates when it’s getting everything it wants at a university – if this was about the would-be Mann hiring, its McDonnell’s critics, not the Governor himself, who should look in the mirror and ask some hard questions.

5) It could play a huge role in Virginia politics for years, if not decades. The Cuccinelli investigation into Mann’s hockey-stick/nature-trick nonsense would claim its first scalp, and given that he is now a candidate for Governor, the Commonwealth could turn into the most dramatic political battle between alarmists and skeptics ever.

… again, this is if Watts is correct.