UH audit of athletics shies away from administrative freebies

I noticed several interesting items on the agenda for today’s State Ethics Commission meeting, and they ended up providing the substance of my weekly column for Civil Beat (“Hawaii Monitor: Advisory Committee Members Forced To Report Finances“). Check it out.

One side issue of interest. The special audit of the UH athletic department ordered up by the Board of Regents has a section towards the end providing lots of detail on complimentary season tickets given out to corporate sponsors, boosters, and employees of the athletic department as well as Koa Anuenue employees. There are tables giving the number of employees who received free tickets, number of tickets given out for each sport over several years, and lists of many recipients, along with statements of issues and recommendations. Details, details, details, running on for several pages.

Then there is a terse little section on free tickets that went to members of the Board of Regents and UH administrators. Suddenly the details and numbers disappear.

Here’s the entire section. A single paragraph.

According to schedules provided by UHM Athletics, Internal Audit noted complimentary season tickets provided to certain members of the Board of Regents and University executive personnel. According to UHM Athletics personnel, the UHM Athletics Director approves the issuance of complimentary season tickets to the Board of Regents Office and certain University executive personnel. Internal Audit was also informed that federal and state reporting requirements regarding the receipt of complimentary tickets is the responsibility of the recipients.

That’s it. No numbers. No details. No auditor’s recommendations.

Double standard?

I believe this might be a classic case of “turning a blind eye.”

You can find links to the athletic audit and the accompanying exhibits in my Civil Beat column.

6 responses to “UH audit of athletics shies away from administrative freebies

  1. This is a good analysis, but i feel like there is something missing, which is a comparison with the policies (or related scandals) of another or other American universities.

    On another note, i have reservations about Civil Beat. Their high concept would be that they would edit their comment sections carefully, and there would be no anonymity. This would not only promote civility, but the public would provide substance, information and perspective. This is not really happening. It’s like half the comments are abusive and anonymous, with fake Facebook accounts.

    Your previous CB article accused a super-pac of ‘cyberbullying’ in its TV commercials. Neil Milner pointed out that this is not true, that this local super-pac simply told people what they wanted to hear, and shifted the focus from public policy issues to questions of character. The irony is that it seems that members of this super-pac are cyberbullying on CB in the comments.

    But they also seem to be doing it on this blog too. Don’t let them get away with it, please. They are the opposite of progressive. They represent the thug side of the Establishment.

    • “This is not really happening. It’s like half the comments are abusive and anonymous, with fake Facebook accounts.”

      Agreed. And the fact that one has to have a Facebook account limits those who would like to participate but refuse to use Facebook.

  2. I think this sounds a lot more insidious than it actually is. In practice, the tickets may be given to certain recipients, but those people usually end up sharing them with co-workers, co-worker’s kids, students, etc. And it’s usually branded as a way to fill seats- more that you’re doing a favor for athletics and for the athletes by attending than getting some kind of under-the-table perk. To be honest, I just assumed that athletics had a certain number of season tickets that they set aside each season for just this reason.

  3. I find it interesting that today’s article in the SA online reports that the task group appointed by the Regents cleared Howard Todo, the UH CFO.

    I don’t suppose that the fact that the task group chair, Larry Rodriguez, was Howard Todo’s boss at Ernst and Young for 13 years had anything to do with it.


  4. On Wednesday or maybe yesterday I recall reading that Dan Inouye was speaking out on behalf of retaining Greenwood, and today I read that a new accord has been reached with Greenwood by the politicians who were going ballistic questioning her leadership.

    That did not take long. Within a 24 hour period after Inouye speaks out, there is this sudden about face by this lynch mob.

    This might be one of the primary reasons Inouye does not want to retire. He truly is the voice of reason in Hawaii. It’s like what Obama said about the Bush administration, that they need adult supervision. Without Inouye, the monkeys take over the zoo.

    It’s been repeatedly stated by observers that Dan Inouye does not control politics in Hawaii, that he works far away and doesn’t really have that much local clout. What power he has locally derives largely from the imagined power that local politicians think he has. The illusion of power has a power in itself, and authority figures often cultivate this illusion (e.g., Donald Trump). But Inouye does not cultivate this illusion, it’s local politicians who cultivate it unconsciously for him. They throw themselves at his feet seeking his blessing, even when it won’t have any effect.

    But there might be something else going on. These politicians themselves desire leadership. It’s just like Caesar Milan says about dogs, that they crave a hierarchy, even if that means they will be at the bottom of it, because that is better than uncertainty and chaos.

    This might be human nature, too. People need hierarchy. So we all need things like religion or ideology, because even if our beliefs are egalitarian and opposed to hierarchy, the belief itself becomes our master. Likewise, HL Mencken said that the first thing people do when given their freedom is to imitate their neighbors, so that the ‘norm’ becomes the new master eagerly obeyed, even while the old political authority is despised. (Hence, people spend a fortune on big cars and houses.) And that’s America, a passionately individualistic and egalitarian society full of obedient sheep who are unaware of their slavishness.

    So slavishness is not the problem with Hawaii’s politicians. We’re all like that. The problem is a total lack of basic common sense. It’s a very distorted, uninformed, naive and provincial view of the world they have. That some of these “leaders” went to elite schools seems to have only put them deeper within a bubble within a bubble.

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