Cost of MU basketball inquiry mounts

MU’s inquiry has cost more than $31,000 since last October.
Monday, April 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:53 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

MU’s investigation into the Missouri men’s basketball program has cost Missouri’s athletic department more than $31,000.

MU’s six-member investigation team, led by MU engineering professor Michael Devaney, spent about $21,000 on a transcriptionist and a court reporter for several confidential interviews with National Collegiate Athletic Association officials between October 2003 and the end of March this year, according to expense records acquired by the Columbia Missourian.

Devaney’s team includes Director of Compliance Mary Austin; Associate Athletic Director Sarah Reesman; compliance coordinator Mitzi Clayton ; UM legal counsel Bill Arnet; and MU forestry professor Carl Settergren.

“It’s part of the cost of doing business but certainly not something you want to do frequently,” Reesman said. “There are things that happen throughout a year for any business or any entity that you want to make sure that you have the means to take care of those unexpected situations.”

The athletic department’s total 2003-04 budget is about $30.3 million, said Kevin Hayward, assistant director of business affairs for the MU Athletic Department.

Through the end of March, at least $7,550 was spent on hotel accommodations, gasoline, rental cars, taxis and airfare during business trips to Indianapolis; Dallas; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Chicago; Raleigh, N.C.; Paducah, Ky.; and Great Bend, Kan.

Records do not outline expenses of the investigation team’s meeting last week with NCAA officials in Indianapolis, which Devaney said symbolizes that the investigation is winding down.

Privately chartered flights to Indianapolis cost the athletic department nothing when university officials, including UM system President Elson Floyd and Athletic Director Mike Alden, flew to Indianapolis in December and earlier this month to meet with the NCAA. Airfare for those trips was provided by private donors through “gift-in-kind” trade-outs with business partners, Reesman said.

“The ‘in-kind’ basically means a service as opposed to a cash donation,” Reesman said.

Reesman was unable to identify the private charters and said she did not know the cost.

Between August and February, investigators also spent more than $1,050 on meals, snacks, audiocassette tapes to record interviews and a rental charge to conduct a confidential interview on Feb. 20 in a conference room at the Hilton Hotel at St. Louis’ Lambert Airport.

Photocopying costs, Federal Express postage to the NCAA, telephone charges and other miscellaneous fees totaled a little more than $1,000.

Reesman said that the investigators have spent the $31,000 responsibly and that the athletic department maintains a reserve account for unforeseen expenses.

“The intention would not be to budget every single penny of your revenue, again that you allow for unexpected situations,” she said.

MU’s investigation started in January 2003, and Floyd expanded it in August when he appointed Devaney to lead an independent investigation into the basketball program. The NCAA began investigating the program in September.

Both involve allegations that several basketball players accepted cash payments from coaches Lane Odom and Tony Harvey. The NCAA is also investigating whether former Missouri basketball player Ricky Clemons received improper academic tutoring and finished 24 credit hours of summer course work to attend MU.

Devaney’s team was expected to release its report in December. Devaney has not said why the report has been delayed, but he said the MU investigation team is working closely with the NCAA and is limited by its timeline.

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