Dallas — The Texas A&M athletic director said he didn't know coach Dennis Franchione was providing inside information on the Aggies in a newsletter to boosters who paid $1,200 per year until two weeks ago.
A reporter made AD Bill Byrne aware of the secret newsletter.
"When I saw a copy of an e-mail, I called Coach Fran and recommended this program be discontinued," Byrne said in a statement released by the school Friday. "I understand he stopped at that time."
Franchione said he has stopped selling the newsletter. The money from the subscription fees helped finance the coach's personal Web site.
About a dozen big-money boosters subscribed for the past three years to the e-mail newsletter, called "VIP Connection." It offered Franchione's candid assessments of players and specific injury information, details Franchione routinely declined to discuss publicly, citing program policy.
Franchione made subscribers sign a confidentiality agreement and said he doesn't believe any of the inside information was used for gambling, the San Antonio Express-News reported Friday after obtaining a copy of the newsletter through a "third-party source."
"We asked them to sign something," Franchione told the newspaper. "And for them not to do that. Most of these people are tremendously loyal Aggies."
In the same statement released Friday, Franchione said the e-mail list began when a group of 12 to 15 boosters participated in a Kickoff Camp that raised money for the school band, the library and the booster club. The newsletter, he said, "came about as an extension of trying to keep some dedicated and loyal fans updated throughout the year on the football program."
"There was no intent to deceive anyone," Franchione said. "I thought this was another avenue of trying to keep some of our top donors informed about our football program."