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Minneapolis schools athletics to get more financial scrutiny

  • Blog Post by: Steve Brandt
  • April 18, 2013 - 11:49 AM

 

Robert Doty

Robert Doty

Athletic departments and student activity accounts are headed for some increased scrutiny from the auditor at Minneapolis Public Schools.

A deeper look at spending and financial controls for both areas is due by June 30, the school board's Audit Committee was told Wednesday.

"We are going to look at athletics first," Chief Financial Officer Robert Doty told the panel.  "It's a timely thing for us to do for a whole lot of reasons."

The board was given a higher level review of athletic finances last summer by a contracted auditor. That's prompting the deeper look by the same firm.

That means that the matter of athletic finances was under scrutiny before questions were raised recently about procedures used to try to order a Washburn athletic field scoreboard, one example of where district officials say proper purchasing procedures weren't followed.

But the issues go well beyond Washburn, Doty said, and they need to be corrected.  "I do believe there's been some mismanagement.  I do believe there's been a lot of inconsistency," Doty said.

But when audit Chair Richard Mammen added that he'd heard rumors of kickbacks, Doty said he's found no hints so far of that.

He said that athletic directors at high schools tend to create processes that work for them but don't follow district procedures. Another issue is caused by the co-mingling of district funds and those raised by groups such as booster clubs, he said.  

"There are issues that need to be corrected," Doty said.

Afterward, he said the Washburn issues are an example of lack of communication over policy and the purchase effort for the scoreboard wasn't consistent with policy.  Doty said tha athletic department review will cover not only finances, but operations, structure, personnel, and processes.

John Washington retired as district athletic director last fall, and the district last week named former Gopher basketball player Trent Tucker as his successor.

The district's auditor said in a review of student activity accounts for last school year that the district hadn't established procedures to assure that all cash collections are recorded, and so limited its audit accordingly. 

         

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