The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

January 22, 2008

Football recruiting money at WVU used for other purposes

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University athletic department officials revealed Tuesday they made numerous withdrawals over the past several years from an account designed specifically for football recruiting expenses.

The handling of that 1100 Club account reportedly was a source of consternation for former coach Rich Rodriguez and could be a component of his forthcoming response to the lawsuit filed against him by WVU.

However, WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and Associate Athletic Director for Finance and Administration Russ Sharp said there was nothing secretive or wrong about what happened.

“The definition as to what the fund is intended for is what was followed to its entirety,” Pastilong said.

The Mountaineer Athletic Club, the athletic department’s fundraising arm, is responsible for raising the 1100 Club money.

Rodriguez suggested the club be started several years ago to fund the rental of private aircraft for recruiting purposes. Club members needed to donate a minimum of $1,100 annually.

Rodriguez was deeply involved and committed to maintaining relationships with donors.

The MAC submits the money to the WVU Foundation as a gift and the gift is then deposited into the 1100 Club account.

Sharp, who could not say how many withdrawals had been made, said “almost 99 percent” were to pay costs for the football team’s training table— meals provided to the players at the Puskar Center. Sharp said a single bill was between $5,000 and $6,000 and that WVU would sometimes receive multiple invoices at once.

“It just depended when the bill showed up,” he said.

An exact figure was not available, but Sharp said the withdrawals would have totaled no more than $200,000 over the past two-plus years. Sharp said a subsequent deposit always followed the withdrawals.

The WVU Foundation, chartered in 1954 to help WVU manage contributions, is an independent 501(c)(3) corporation. Its status as a nonprofit organization makes its records unattainable by the Freedom of Information Act.

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