Follow the UCA money UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Follow the UCA money UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 6:19 AM

Yawn. Another day, another piece of revelatory reporting on UCA financial shortcomings by the Democrat-Gazette's Debra Hale-Shelton. Again, interim President Tom Courtway is forced to amend previous statements on the ongoing debacle.

Here, the lead is UCA exceeding the state cap on athletic spending -- by relatively small amounts -- on account of previously unrecorded expenditures on athletes from the now infamous discretionary scholarship fund.

Well. If my sources are correct, this story will get bigger and much more controversial.

This, in fact, may be the real reason UCA officials have tried so doggedly not to reveal recipients of discretionary money. I have been told that much more is to be revealed, as you'd guess, about expenditures in behalf of family and friends of the connected and wealthy. But the real cherished secret may be the athletic spending. Was it reported to the NCAA? Has the school violated NCAA caps on scholarship spending? The current athletic director says that, to the best of his knowledge, rules were followed. A more searching review is not only needed but required, by UCA and the NCAA if necessary. Surely Tom Courtway won't argue that recipients of athletic scholarships are confidential under federal law.

NCAA rules violations have real consequences, unlike exceeding the state cap on sports spending.

UPDATE: Athletic Director Brad Teague called in response to this morning's post. He said the Democrat-Gazette article didn't fully report his statements about spending on athletes. He says he HAD made a careful review of records of spending from the discretionary fund on athletes. Three this year, three in each of the two preceding years and nine athletes four years ago received discretionary scholarship money. Teague said he's reviewed reports to the NCAA and all that scholarship spending was accounted for, and fell within NCAA caps, even if the campus budget office wasn't aware of the spending on athletes as the D-G article reported.

I asked for the list of scholarships reported to the NCAA. Teague said he'd provide them. This is public information, Teague agrees. The list may not say which of several types of categorical aid might have contributed to an athlete's scholarship assistance so it might not be readily apparent which athletes had presidential help. (Athletes might qualify for academic grants, athletic department funds and other sources to contribute toward a full scholarship.) Identifying those who received president's discretionary money will be a matter for Courtway to decide, he said.

Courtway should clear the air on this crucial point. To date, clearing the air hasn't exactly been high on Courtway's list.

UPDATE II: Brummett's blogging on the same topic and broader questions about future leadership, inclouding the out-of-left-field idea to reinstall Win Thompson as president.

UPDATE III: Teague has supplied four years of NCAA reports. By way of illustration, here's the report for 2009, which he says includes three athletes who are receiving discretionary money. The report shows payments to athletes from athletic money and from other sources, but specifics of sources are not supplied so it is not possible to identify the three receiving reportable athletic scholarships from the presidential money. So far, Teague has said it will be up to Courtway to say whether those names can be released. I can see no privacy protection necessary for students who must be reported as athletic scholarship recipients in NOT saying they got this money. But I'm not interim president of UCA.

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