Mike Adams, who taught sociology and criminology at the university, retired early after backlash from a racially charged social media post in which he called Gov. Roy Cooper "Massa Cooper."
After the controversy, UNC-Wilmington said it faced three options: Keep Adams as a faculty member, fire him six years after he won a $700,000 First Amendment lawsuit against the school, or see if he would retire.
Adams decided to retire. He agreed to retire August 1 and the university agreed to give him a $504,702 settlement for lost salary and lost retirement benefits.
PREVIOUS STORY: One Tree Hill stars call on UNC-Wilmington to remove professor
In late May, Adams tweeted that he dined with six men at a six-seat table and "felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina." He then wrote: "Massa Cooper, let my people go!" He announced his retirement in June after a petition calling for his firing received more than 60,000 signatures.
The New Hanover Sheriff's Office told WWAY that Adams' death is being investigated at this time.
UNCW Division of Academic Affairs issued this message to the college's community:
"It is with sadness that we share the news that the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation involving Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology. Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts. Students may call the University Counseling Center (910.962.3746) for grief support; faculty and staff can seek support through the Employee Assistance Program."