Boosters’ financial records under fire

A booster club that supports the University’s football team did not report its contributions to an auditing firm at any time between 1991 and 1996, according to documents released Tuesday.
Additionally, two men’s basketball booster clubs, as well as women’s softball, women’s golf and women’s track booster clubs declined to report their financial activities in 1995 and 1996, according to the documents.
University President Mark Yudof announced a task force to create a University policy regarding athletic booster clubs last Thursday. The move followed the release of documents revealing that a basketball booster group, the Golden Dunkers, had paid for a Las Vegas golf outing for Gophers men’s basketball coaches and their spouses. The trip could constitute a violation of federal tax law.
The University is required to report its financial activities to the NCAA each year, but the NCAA does not require booster clubs to be included in the reports.
“Not everybody responds,” said Terrence O’Connor, University controller. “We’d like them to, but they’re not required to.” There are no consequences for clubs who do not respond, O’Connor said.
Jeff Schemmel, associate director for men’s athletics, said that though some booster clubs didn’t report their financial activities, it doesn’t mean they have anything to hide. He suggested that time and personnel constraints could have prevented the clubs from reporting. Schemmel added that in his nine years at the University, he has not seen any improprieties within the booster clubs.
“The NCAA does not require audits of booster clubs, but we do it because we think it’s good practice,” Schemmel said.
Neither Mark Williams, president of the Touchdown Club, nor Neal Johnson, president of the Golden Dunkers booster club, could be reached for comment. The Backcourt Club, another basketball booster organization, was phased out a few years ago. None of the women’s booster clubs’ representatives could be reached for comment.
Men’s Athletics Director Mark Dienhart said that Coopers & Lybrand, the auditing firm that handled the University’s reports from 1991 to 1996, experienced administrative problems that could have prevented them from obtaining reports from all of the booster clubs.
Deloitte & Touche LLP, a Minneapolis auditing firm, is now handling the University’s self-reports.