Friday, September 3, 2010

Grand jury probing Hardin days at UCA

Posted By on Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Dum da dum dum.

Lu CA is back in the news.

We reported way back in May that a federal probe was proceeding on financial matters arising during Lu Hardin's tenure as president of the University of Central Arkansas.

The probe has reached a federal grand jury. Responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, UCA has released copies of two subpoenas issued by the federal Grand Jury. One is for Rush Harding of Little Rock, a member of the UCA Board of Trustees and one is for computers and data of Lu Hardin and former UCA vice president Joe Darling. Harding is subpoenaed as a witness. A target of the Grand Jury investigation wouldn't be subpoenaed.

The subpoenas were turned up initially in FOI requests by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and have since been supplied to others. Harding's subpoena asks him to appear Tuesday. He declined comment other than to say, "I will answer whatever questions are asked of me in a truthful and clear manner."

Past reporting suggests obvious areas of inquiry, including a $300,000 accelerated bonus Hardin received, which was voted after Hardin presented a memo he said was written by other UCA officials supporting the payment. It turned out the others didn't write the memo. An arrangement to divert money in excess of state caps to the football coach through a public relations account also was controversial. And investigators are reviewing how Hardin spent money he received in the bonuses. It is likely that a number of other subpoenas have been issued for people not at UCA, so this is just a tip of the probe.

Hardin, now president of a church-based college in Florida, resigned as president in a buyout deal two years ago. He cited health reasons and a desire for the campus to heal from controversies, but has generally defended his work as president and the school's growth under his leadership.

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