Archive for Thursday, April 11, 2002

Fresno State officials investigating athletic budget

April 11, 2002


Improprieties that occurred while Al Bohl was athletic director at Fresno State University have come under the scrutiny of auditors.

University officials want to know why reserve funds were shifted to the Fresno State Athletic Corp. budget without following established procedures.

"Unbeknownst to the athletic corporation board, funds were shifted into the operating budget," said Mark Aydelotte, an FSU assistant vice president. "It would have been OK if the board knew it, but the board didn't know.

"It's like moving your money from your savings account to your checking account to cover a deficit and not telling your wife about it."

A full audit of the budgeting practices of Fresno State University's athletic department over the last three fiscal years began this week. Bohl, who was Fresno State's athletic director in 1996-2001, has been AD at Kansas University since last Aug. 1.

"I don't know (what happened)," Bohl said Wednesday by phone while returning from the Big 12 Conference meetings in Dallas. "They're handling it. Every year with our budget we were scrutinized. We had one of the most open procedures and there was tremendous scrutiny on the budget."

According to sources, money collected for seat licenses for the university's new basketball arena were improperly moved in order to balance the budget.

While at Fresno State, Bohl's contract contained a clause stipulating he would receive a bonus if the department budget was balanced. Bohl had other incentive bonuses in the areas of NCAA standing, academic progress and gender-equity compliance.

Bohl has denied any involvement in cooking the books to earn a bonus, stressing the budget process at FSU was always conducted out in the open.

"I can't really speak to what's going on," Bohl said. "They have to handle it. I was very proud of everything we did with the budget. I'm going to try to help them any way I can."

Nevertheless, a comprehensive accounting by the university auditor is under way.

"We're going through every penny and that will take awhile," Aydelotte said, "because it's an $18.1 million budget."

Aydelotte stressed the failure to report the transfer of funds to the athletic corporation board could have been done without Bohl's knowledge, or that there was simply a failure to communicate.

KU's athletic department is also operated as a corporation and has a board of directors composed of faculty, alumni and students.

One member of the board's finance committee believes it would be extremely difficult to shift funds without the board's knowledge.

"It seems to me it would be almost impossible," said Jack Clevenger, a alumni board member from Kansas City, Mo. "Everything we talk about in the finance committee we have to bring to the full board."

Still, Clevenger said he will ask that the Fresno State situation be added to the agenda for the next KUAC board meeting on May 9.

"It would be wise for (Bohl) to explain how it can't happen here," Clevenger said, "or if it can, that the process be put in motion to make sure it can't."

Bohl was open to the idea.

"I have no problems with that," Bohl said. "I have not talked to Jack."

Susan Wachter, the KU athletic department's chief financial officer, noted that all funds not generated from within go to the Kansas University Endowment Association.

"Endowment is one of the checks and balances," Wachter said. "Endowment funds are restricted as to how they can be used."

Wachter also meets weekly with Theresa Klinkenberg, the university's chief financial officer, to discuss day-to-day operations.

"Al (Bohl) is very happy we have those meetings," Wachter said. "He thinks they're very important."

Les Snyder, Wachter's counterpart at Fresno State, was placed on paid administrative leave when the irregularities first came to light last month.

"I'm still under personnel action," Snyder said Wednesday, "and I can't comment about anything."

Meanwhile, Bohl has been contacted by both the university and the FSU athletic corporation about the situation.

"As athletic director at the time, he would be aware of the fiscal operation," Aydelotte said.

Last Friday, the university issued a statement saying a preliminary report "has confirmed there were improper overstatements of revenues available to the corporation for the last three years."

Also, the university reported that "internal controls are being strengthened and a financial plan is being developed to ensure that the athletic department can continue to meet its financial obligations without disruption."

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