College Sports

Unhappy 49ers fan paid $1,800 for banner that flew over campus. Was it worth it?

In October, before the Charlotte 49ers’ homecoming football game against Ala.-Birmingham, alum Jon Lotti hired a plane to fly over the school’s campus with a trailing banner that read: “Fire Judy Rose! Help Wanted New A.D. Needed.”
In October, before the Charlotte 49ers’ homecoming football game against Ala.-Birmingham, alum Jon Lotti hired a plane to fly over the school’s campus with a trailing banner that read: “Fire Judy Rose! Help Wanted New A.D. Needed.” Photo contributed

Jon Lotti is a 31-year-old who works in construction management in Charlotte, a 2010 graduate of UNC Charlotte’s civil engineering program.

He’s also unhappy with the state of his alma mater’s football and men’s basketball programs. So he aired his grievances – literally.

On Oct. 21, before the 49ers’ homecoming football game against Ala.-Birmingham, Lotti hired a small plane to fly over the Charlotte campus with a trailing banner that read: “Fire Judy Rose! Help Wanted New A.D. Needed.”

Lotti’s message mirrored the discontent of a vocal segment of the 49ers’ fan base about athletics director Judy Rose and their perceived direction of the department, specifically with the football program. On the day the banner flew, the 49ers beat UAB in overtime for their only victory of the season.

Lotti’s beef: 49ers football hasn’t been competitive under coach Brad Lambert (going 1-11 this season) and the men’s basketball program hasn’t returned to the NCAA tournament in 12 years. Attendance for both sports is sagging.

“As an alum, I’m very proud,” Lotti said. “But I don’t want to see the football program sink into the oblivion that basketball sunk into.”

Lotti hopes things will improve under third-year basketball coach Mark Price, although he’s not a fan of Lambert, who will remain coach after a disappointing season.

“I agree with that (Price) hire,” Lotti said. “And I know Lambert is doing stuff the right way. But we pay him to win football games, not to be a good guy.”

Lotti said the banner cost him $1,800.

“I could have used that money to donate to the engineering program or the athletic program,” he said. “But I thought I would direct my funds elsewhere to help get a conversation started.”

David Scott: @davidscott14

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