Christmas gift idea: Book on UA scandal | Arkansas Blog

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas gift idea: Book on UA scandal

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 11:21 AM

click to enlarge 3dbook.jpg
John Diamond, the former top PR man at the University of Arkansas, came to mind twice within the last few days.

Once was when I got confirmation that UA Athletic Director Jeff Long had banned the Arkansas Blog from following his official Twitter account for commenting that a $32 million TV contract helped the Athletic Department balance its books. I'm guessing Diamond, who earned national acclaim for his assist of Long in the firing of Bobby Petrino, might have suggested a less prickly approach to media relations.

Then I got a news release about Diamond's book. "Please Delete: How Leadership Hubris Ignited a Scandal and Tarnished a University." Diamond recounts former UA Chancellor David Gearhart's efforts to cover up financial mismanagement in the university's advancement division in 2013, a coverup that Diamond resisted. He was fired. Gearhart departed with handsome walking-away money (and a building has been named for him on campus).

Several legislators participated in a UA effort to squelch a thorough investigation orchestrated by Trustee John Goodson (now busy trying to elect his wife chief justice of the Supreme Court). Ultimately some of the laundry was hung out to dry. But time passed and the story was consigned to the library shelves with other university dustups of yore.

\Diamond kept working on a detailed rehash, including a look at prosecutor work papers. His book is dense with detail and as bureaucratic as you'd expect from an account of a giant administrative structure. I didn't need persuading that politics had trumped full disclosure in the affair. Here's what the news release for Diamond's book says is new in his account:

* Calendar records that raise new questions about the truthfulness of UA’s top finance officials when they met with state auditors.

* Incriminating conclusions noted in prosecutors’ draft report that were deleted by a higher-up the day before the report was issued.

* Gearhart’s 3 a.m. email to Diamond and university lawyers to discourage them from releasing an alarming internal review that was being sought by an inquiring reporter.

* The apparent months-long failure of university officials to notify a billionaire trustee [John Tyson] that his seven-figure donation had been inappropriately diverted to an unrelated account to camouflage a deficit there.

* A terse email exchange with an auditor in which Gearhart denies ever being interviewed by auditors about the overspending, even after being presented with the detailed documentation of multiple interviews in which Gearhart participated.

*  Repeated instructions during the scandal to “delete” email exchanges and notifications in order to keep them from the eyes of investigating reporters.

* Off-cycle pay raises (one totaling $40,000) given to key employees with direct knowledge of actions and events that top university officials had denied under oath.

* An email from the chair of the university’s board of trustees to a colleague justifying why they should take no disciplinary action against senior university officials who had knowingly withheld public records from a reporter. 

Not exactly John Grisham material. Nor is it a heroic account of gridiron glory, suitable for the coffee table. But it's worth reading. I hope the new chancellor has a copy. Because some of the staffers are still around, not to mention legislators (from both sides of the fight) and reporters who'll recall how Gearhartgate went down should future controversies arise. And the "Brother Honky" chapter (some background on that title here) illustrates how entwined university advancement was and remains with athletics, by budget twice as big as any other department on campus.

The book is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and also johndiamondbooks.com


Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Steve Bannon leaving White House

    The odious Steve Bannon, right-wing nationalist, is departing his White House job as strategist for Donald Trump.  Alas, Trump is still there.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • Death penalty foes object to execution of Jack Greene

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is urging Gov. Asa Hutchinson not to set an execution date for Jack Greene,  sentenced to die for a 1991 slaying in Johnson County
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • What those Confederate monuments are about: Slavery

    The Democratic Party has likely chosen a political loser in a call for removal of Confederate memorials from public grounds, but it doesn't mean the sentiment is wrong. They are tributes to the fight to preserve slavery, no more or less.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Steve Bannon leaving White House

    • "The problem is the person who hasn't left the White House. Not to mention Miller…

    • on August 18, 2017
  • Re: Steve Bannon leaving White House

    • How can @pariahdonaldtrump get along without his white nationalist sidekick Steve Bannon? After all, isn't…

    • on August 18, 2017
  • Re: Steve Bannon leaving White House

    • As long as Trump can trade bodies to eject, he won't go anywhere. That is…

    • on August 18, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation