U donations appear to be unaffected by recent scandal

Erin Ghere

Findings of widespread academic fraud in the men’s basketball program and the removal of the men’s athletics chain of command will not negatively affect donations to the University, said the head of the University’s fund-raising body.
Jerry Fischer, head of the University Foundation, said most donors are supportive of University President Mark Yudof’s actions in the University’s academic-fraud scandal.
“(Donors) are aware of the extraordinary things going on around the whole University, and our donors know that we’re not just the basketball team,” he said.
The University kicked off Campaign Minnesota in late October, with the goal of raising $1.3 billion by 2003.
Released Friday, the independent investigators’ report indicates basketball coach Clem Haskins knew of academic cheating and that his superiors did not do enough to control Haskins’ “power coach” mentality.
Yudof also announced the resignations of McKinley Boston, vice president of student development and athletics, and Mark Dienhart, men’s athletics director. The University will also not renew the contracts of the NCAA compliance officer and the associate men’s athletics director.
Fischer said the allegations of fraud, which surfaced in March, have not hurt fund raising, so he doesn’t expect the final report to, either.
“The allegations have been out there for six months, and I have not seen any perceptible decline in fund raising or donors who have not made major gifts that we were expecting,” he said.
In fact, Fischer said, the first three months of this fiscal year, which began in June, have grossed more than twice the donations than last year. Between June and September, the foundation logged $46.5 million, compared with $18.9 million last year.
But for some potential donors, the basketball scandal might have at least tainted their view of the University. Some of the University Foundation’s donation requests have been sent back empty with comments about the men’s basketball program’s academic fraud.
Officials will not know how the final report will affect donations until mid-January, when donation totals for November will be released.

Erin Ghere covers faculty and state government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.