Yudof launches booster task force

by Nicole Vulcan

University President Mark Yudof announced on Thursday the appointment of a task force to create a University policy regarding athletic booster clubs.
The task force comes on the heels of last week’s published report stating a University booster group might have violated federal tax laws when it paid for a Las Vegas golf outing for Gophers men’s basketball coaches and their spouses.
According to the report, the Golden Dunkers booster club could be in violation for calling itself a charity and telling members they could take income tax deductions for contributions.
Yudof named five community leaders to recommend policy for the clubs, which support athletics teams. Beyond NCAA recommendations, the University has no policy regarding the funds, said Men’s Athletics Director Mark Dienhart.
“The purpose is to look at the policies and practices that govern booster funds,” said Mark Rotenberg, the University’s general counsel. Rotenberg will coordinate the task force.
Rotenberg added that the task force’s mission does not include probing possible past violations.
“We’re not expecting to point fingers here,” Rotenberg added.
E. Thomas Sullivan, dean of the Law School, will chair the task force. It includes Peggy Lucas, chair of the Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Council; Michael Wright, president and CEO of the Super Valu supermarket chain; Josie Johnson, a former University regent; and Marvin Borman, a local lawyer.
Borman, former president of the University Foundation, the organization to which booster clubs report, said Yudof contacted him Monday, but the two only spoke briefly and generally about the task force’s duties.
“We’re supposed to come up with a report in 30 days, so we should have something in early June,” Borman said.
Yudof also sent a memorandum to University athletic directors and coaches Thursday, announcing that no University employee may accept funds from booster clubs unless they are used for official University business.
To require this is an uncommon policy among other universities, Dienhart said.