UH athletics audit finds possible NCAA violations

UH athletics audit finds possible NCAA violations
Published: Nov. 7, 2012 at 11:16 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2012 at 11:51 PM HST
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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An internal audit of the University of Hawaii Athletics department found sloppy accounting, questionable spending and possible NCAA violations.

The UH Board of Regents released the audit Wednesday after its audit committee got a detailed briefing about its findings during a meeting at the UH Manoa Campus Center Ballroom.

Every summer, UH coaches hold football camps for kids and the audit found the athletic department used $78,000 raised at football scholarship dinners to boost the salaries of the coaches and staff who ran the camps.

"It's pursuant to the head coaches' contracts, it allows them to do that, but it was clearly something that as we were going through this process, that we were not aware of," Glenn Shizumura, director of the UH's Office of Internal Audits, told the regents.

That concerned regents like Vice Chair James Lee.

"That doesn't seem right," Lee said.

"Clearly on the surface," Shizumura responded. "Again, the forms were signed and clearly it's questionable as to the appropriateness of these monies being pulled out of these foundation accounts."

The UH Foundation held the fund raising dinners and the foundation's Chief Financial Officer Bill King said while donors aren't told their money will be used to increase coaches' salaries, they are sent a letter that said,

"The fundraising events help defray the cost associated with the summer football camps conducted by the Warrior football staff, thereby making it affordable to all local youth to attend."

Regents are worried the UH football camps for kids could fail to comply with NCAA rules, which require universities to properly document sports camp revenues and expenses.

The UH waived fees for 44 football camp participants in 2012, the audit found, prompting further concern about possible NCAA violations if any of those students went on to play football at UH. The audit found UH officials could not provide documentation for why 20 of the students were allowed to attend the summer camps for free.

"Any situations where there might even remotely be any remote compliance impact whatsoever, I am in conversation, have shared the information with our compliance office, so it would be under review," said Carl Clapp, associate UH athletic director.

UH Chancellor Tom Apple promised regents he'd respond to their concerns about the audit within a couple of weeks.

"How we can make this a better athletics department and employ enterprise risk management to these problems, there are clear problems," Apple said.

The audit also discovered Oahu car dealers provided free loaner cars to 26 UH coaches and assistant coaches in exchange for free tickets to UH sports events. UH gave away about 8,600 seats a year worth $1.3 million to donors and UH supporters, the audit found.

The audit also found sloppy record keeping and accounting at the UH athletic department during the last three years when Jim Donovan was in charge.

In one case, the auditors found a UH athletic department employee who failed to reimburse the department an excess travel advance of $4,800 for more than a year. In another case, an excess travel advance of $4,700 was reported stolen from a coach's office safe.

The audit also questioned why Donovan approved sending five personnel to the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament in 2012, including himself.  

"When we read the explanations, it was somewhat questionable as to the need and the business purpose of some of the individuals attending," Shizumura said.

The audit found Donovan spent about 30 percent of each of the last three years traveling.

Donovan was reimbursed for entertaining guests at "higher priced establishments such as Alan Wong's and Ruth Chris," the audit said, calculating that the average meals at those by Donovan and his guests at those restaurants cost $94.

King told regents the UH Foundation is implementing new restrictions on use of UH Foundation money for meals.

King said the foundation will create breakfast, lunch and dinner cost limits.

"We would have the recognition that there are times, such as senior recruitments, visiting dignitaries, and donor relations, where some of those events may require a higher cost," King said.

The foundation will also restrict in-town meals by UH employees, something Donovan was reimbursed for on a regular basis.

"We're going to restrict the situations where we have in-town meals between employees at the university.  So a dean taking out an assistant for lunch to talk about business will no longer be allowed," King told the regents.

There will also be a per-person limit on alcoholic beverages paid for with foundation funds. And if the purpose of the meal is merely to "discuss university or department issues, that's not being considered sufficient," for reimbursement by the foundation, King said.

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