Mike Bellman got more than he bargained for when he purchased a box of old cell phones from the MU athletics department.
Bellman bought the cell phones earlier this year at a university surplus sale with the intent of reselling them for parts. He paid $190 for 25 old cell phones, figuring he'd sell the parts for around $1,000.
Turned out the information on the phones might be worth more than the hardware. No one at the university had deleted the text messages, e-mails and contact numbers from the phones.
Bellman told the Columbia Tribune last week he hoped to sell the old phones to a sports collector, with an asking price of $3,000. Bellman did not respond Tuesday to several calls and e-mails from The Associated Press.
The Tribune reported last week that among other things, one Sprint Treo previously used by basketball coach Mike Anderson still had text messages between Anderson, football coach Gary Pinkel and Athletics Director Mike Alden. It was nothing controversial — well wishes for upcoming games and congratulations after wins.
Still, the university has caught some flak from several online sites for not being more careful with information that could fall into the wrong hands — someone affiliated with Kansas, Nebraska or some other Big 12 rival, for example.
"Missouri Manages to Screw Up Throwing Out Cell Phones," was the headline on Deadspin.com.
Athletics department spokesman Chad Moller said the incident has prompted a change in the way the athletics department discards old cell phones.
"We certainly since this happened have gone over our internal procedures, so when we do have phones to turn over, we'll take it upon ourselves to make sure the information has been wiped," Moller said.
After the university realized the information had been left on the phones, officials tried to buy them back.
"We offered to pay him what he bought the phones for, or we also indicated that if he'd simply bring the phones to our offices, we'd wipe them clean and then he could go out and resell them for whatever he wanted," Moller said.
But Moller said Bellman broke off communications and refused to sell them back to the university. Bellman told the Tribune he believed the phones could be a valuable addition for a collector of Missouri sports memorabilia.
"I'm looking for that crazy collector who wants to take these phones and read about what happened when it happened," he told the newspaper.