Hearings sought on misuse of UMD funds

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Several lawmakers want the Legislature to hold hearings on the University of Minnesota’s alleged misuse of money earmarked for women’s athletics.
They are reacting to a report Monday in the Star Tribune that stated the University of Minnesota-Duluth had spent money on men’s athletics that should have gone to women’s sports.
“If what’s in (the) article is correct, I can almost assure there will be hearings and that maybe that money will be in jeopardy,” said Rep. Thomas Huntley, DFL-Duluth, a UMD professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
The Star Tribune reported that in 1994-95, UMD spent $647,000 intended by the Legislature to improve the quality of women’s athletics, when the total budget for all six of UMD’s women’s teams was $322,599. It was a year when athletic director Bruce McLeod told the women’s soccer team there was no money for scholarships.
The article also said that in 1994-95, 33 percent of UMD athletes were women, but their teams received only 16 percent of athletic scholarship money, 18 percent of recruiting funds and 25 percent of the total spent on coaching salaries.
It also said UMD used more than $191,000 of its women’s athletics subsidy in 1994-95 to pay 42 percent of its administrative and support expenses.
According to UMD records, the money earmarked for women’s sports paid the full salaries of the department’s fund-raiser and two fund-raising secretaries, even though female athletes received only 16 percent of the athletic scholarships and 21 percent of athletic financial aid that year.
“I want to get to the bottom of this,” said Rep. Kris Hasskamp, DFL-Crosby, an advocate of equality for women’s athletics. “That money is precious. Either they’re not providing the kind of programming they should have at UMD or we’re giving them too much money.”
Hasskamp said she’ll ask the division of the House Education Committee that handles University finances to hold hearings.
Rep. Becky Kelso, DFL-Shakopee, chairwoman of that committee, said she wants hearings, too. She said they probably would be held after Jan. 1, when the Legislature is back in session. By then, she said, UMD’s administration should be finished examining how its athletic department spent the money.
UMD officials said they’ve been examining the use of the women’s athletics subsidy as part of an audit of the athletic department.
University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo declined to comment Monday, saying through spokesman Bill Brady that he’s waiting for UMD to finish its internal investigations.