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UCF isn't the only school breaking funding rules for new buildings. Why are Florida lawmakers so focused on punishing UCF?

Bad blood

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The University of Central Florida thought state lawmakers would be sated with last week's ritual sacrifice of President Dale Whittaker. They were wrong.

Whittaker convinced the Board of Trustees this was the only way to get past investigations into the university's illegal misdirection of $85 million in leftover operating funds, which were used to build a $38 million replacement for a decrepit academic building known as Trevor Colbourn Hall. In a letter, he told the board that it had been "made clear" to him that, without his resignation, UCF would face ongoing recriminations from state leaders.

"I offered my resignation as a way to end punitive measures and threats, and restore normalcy to a healthy relationship," said Whittaker, who took over the position from retiring President John Hitt about eight months ago. "Florida needs a UCF that serves our students and community without fear of what the future may bring."

During 90 minutes of emotional speeches, tears and effusive praise at a Feb. 21 board meeting, some trustees fought the alleged injustice of Whittaker's resignation. His wife, Mary Whittaker, said threats were made to her husband and the school.