PDA

View Full Version : Setting the Record Straight



Angelo Roncalli
01-20-2010, 03:31 PM
It's unfortunate that others are using Fitz's passing to take potshots at Gonzaga, but considering who's doing it, I'm not in the least surprised.

http://members4.boardhost.com/donscentral/msg/1264030777.html

Fitz isn't around to set the record straight, so I will.

While Fitz was athletic director, he opened a bank account in the name of Gonzaga University Athletics. The account was in existence for 16 years. During that time period, Fitz deposited a total of $199,874 into the account. There were various sources for the money, but the majority came from payments from the WCC, including reimbursements for expenses. Other sources of the money in the account were ticket sales, parking fees and program sales. Under NCAA rules, all accounts maintained by the athletic department were to be under the oversight of the school controller. This account was not.

The money was used to pay for entirely legitimate athletic department expenses including recruiting expenses such as meals for recruits and the purchase of a used car that was kept in the Bay Area for coaches to use while on recruiting visits. Again, ALL of the expenses paid from the account were legitimate athletics department expenses, but they violated NCAA rules because the university did not have oversight of the account.

The NCAA found that no competitive advantage had been gained since recruiting expenditures and other payments from the account fell within Division I guidelines. No money had been used for impermissible recruiting, for payment to athletes or to Fitz himself. The University of Oklahoma law professor who chaired the investigation stated: "The nature of violations in this case didn't involve anything of that type,'' said David Swank, chairman of the committee and a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma. Swank went on to say: "Normally, there are other traces you find if the money has been used for improper purposes.There was no indication here that there was an excessive use of funds.''

The basketball program was not sanctioned. There was no reduction in scholarships. There was no forfeiting of wins. The school was placed on four years probation by the NCAA. Accounting oversight rules were installed. Athletics staff and coaches had to undergo rules recertification.

The exact findings of the NCAA were:


1. From 1990 through 1997, Gonzaga lacked appropriate institutional control over its athletic program failing to adequately monitor the activities of the director of athletics relating to his use of university funds not deposited with the institution and used, in part, to pay recruiting and other department expenses.

2. During that period, Fitzgerald deposited $199,874 of university money including $110,354.65 of reimbursements from the West Coast Conference into a local bank account not disclosed to anyone outside the athletic department in the name of ``Gonzaga University Athletics.'' This account was used to supplement the athletic department budget. Among other things, it was utilized in the purchase of a used vehicle used by coaches for recruiting purposes and in the provision of meal and student host entertainment money during prospects' official visits. The committee found this to be in violation of an NCAA by-law requiring that all recruiting funds be deposited with the member institution but said Gonzaga did not exceed NCAA limitations on recruiting expenditures and gained no competitive advantage.

3. Fitzgerald was found to have violated NCAA principles of ethical conduct by his knowing involvement in the utilization of a non-university bank account, and in failing to disclose the information during annual NCAA-mandated fiscal control audits. He allowed inaccurate and incomplete reports to be made to the NCAA regarding Gonzaga's self-study of budgetary controls and fiscal practices.

Fitz was not fired. He resigned. Fr. Coughlin offered him a continuing position at the school as the head of fund-raising. Fitz declined.

These are the facts.

Kiddwell
01-20-2010, 03:41 PM
Thanks, Angelo.

:]

rijman
01-20-2010, 03:50 PM
Thanks for setting the record straight. Your summary is what I have heard for years from those who supposedly knew what really happened although your explanation is much more detailed.

lothar98zag
01-20-2010, 03:51 PM
Sad that this had to be done.

Rules were broken and a punishment was administered. Seems pretty simple.

(hopefully people don’t click the link in AR’s post and give attention where it isn’t deserved/needed.)

ZagNative
01-20-2010, 03:57 PM
Angelo, you probably can't or won't answer this question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Do you believe the university has handled Fitzgerald's situation fairly all these years?

Frankly, it's bothered me for a long time. I've wanted him to be openly embraced and recognized for what he had done and continued to do for the university. I've wanted him recognized as an important part of the family and I felt like a heel as a fan for having him appearing as if he were a banished outsider ...

Will that story be told in time? Will it reflect well on the university?

And who the hell cares what those fools at Dons Central say or think? Pathetic...

Rangerzag
01-20-2010, 04:09 PM
Frankly, it's bothered me for a long time. I've wanted him to be openly embraced and recognized for what he had done and continued to do for the university. I've wanted him recognized as an important part of the family and I felt like a heel as a fan for having him appearing as if he were a banished outsider ...

Will that story be told in time? Will it reflect well on the university?

I have no idea what kept Fitz from a closer association with GU in recent years. I think it was a real lost opportunity for him to be publicly recognized for his cornerstone contributions to the highly improbable success of the Zag program we so actively enjoy.

TacomaZAG
01-20-2010, 04:14 PM
for repeating what really happened. Fitz has been unfairly chastized for many years. Thanks for once again putting the untrue rumors to rest.

Go ZAGS

alaskazagnut
01-20-2010, 04:48 PM
that Rillie and Stockton were mentioned in the Decade of Excellence and not Fitz, says it all. Not fair or ethical to leave him out. His photo should have been one of the the first shown and comments about his tenure should have been made first because he is the foundation for the teams continuity and philosophy that we still see today. He was the cornerstone for our success. He hired Monson, Few and Grier and in many ways we are still in an extended Fitz era. Most of the guys on the 1999 Elite 8 team were recruited by Fitz.

Dan Fitzgerald is now sitting on that great bench in the sky right next to Fr Tony and they will be watching and rooting for us.

seasontixholder
01-20-2010, 05:53 PM
It was my understanding that the account was there - not to do illegal things - but to keep the program viable, given the school's financial shortcomings and the resulting "thrift" (stinginess) with the athletic department. It was common knowledge that GU had a budget at the bottom of the league, not even close to the 2nd lowest school's. Amazing. That was even in the 90s when they were making noise in the league.

The pennypinching was incredible.

rawkmandale
01-20-2010, 06:27 PM
Angelo, can you please repeat your post in the "RIP" sticky thread?

sonuvazag
01-20-2010, 08:05 PM
It was my understanding that the account was there - not to do illegal things - but to keep the program viable, given the school's financial shortcomings and the resulting "thrift" (stinginess) with the athletic department. It was common knowledge that GU had a budget at the bottom of the league, not even close to the 2nd lowest school's. Amazing. That was even in the 90s when they were making noise in the league.

The pennypinching was incredible.

Wow. And to think of what the program brings to the university now in terms of revenue and national exposure.

LongIslandZagFan
01-20-2010, 08:19 PM
Never underestimate the level of lows that certain USF fans will sink to. A good man died... a man I knew... a man that did many great things... and some USF fans can't resist the opportunity to be make complete asses of themselves. Congrats USF fans... you have reached the bottom of the barrel. Way to show your true level of class.

NEC26
01-20-2010, 08:20 PM
Wow I went to Donscentral and I cant believe the venom spewed out there. He is one bitter, jealous, angry man!

Das Zagger
01-20-2010, 09:19 PM
Never underestimate the level of lows that certain USF fans will sink to. A good man died... a man I knew... a man that did many great things... and some USF fans can't resist the opportunity to be make complete asses of themselves. Congrats USF fans... you have reached the bottom of the barrel. Way to show your true level of class.

It's somewhat ironic to hear a USF fan call another school out for NCAA violations, actually, its really ironic.

CDC84
01-20-2010, 10:01 PM
SOME of the USF people seem to have this obsession with how GU must be a renegade program to have had this kind of dominance over the league the past 10 years. No other fans within the WCC have this obsession. No one. You don't see it with the people at St. Mary's, Pepperdine, Portland, etc. It's absurd. I will never forget when one gentleman tried to argue that GU broke NCAA rules when Micah Downs transferred from Kansas to Gonzaga. How could the transfer have taken place so quickly unless the Zags had engaged in illegal contact with Downs and were cheaters? As if the Gonzaga coaching staff isn't aware of what constitutes a major and blatant NCAA violation that can lead to severe program penalties. As if they would be that stupid to do such a thing.

Zag 77
01-20-2010, 10:33 PM
Is it really conceivable that brilliant and worldly guys like Fr. Coughlin, Harry Sladich, Harry Magnuson, etc. had no earthly idea? I have difficulty believing to this day that Fitz was pulling the wool over anybody's eyes in the AD Building. 100k used to be a lot of money in the 90's, and nobody has successfully kept a secret there in 120 years. GU was too small a place to keep that money secret.

More than just me feel like he was allowed to take the fall for others and then hung out to dry. It was easier to lose an Athletic Director in those days than somebody on the third floor of the AD Building.

There is only one guy still living who knows the whole story, and so far he ain't talkin'.

GoZags
01-21-2010, 02:38 AM
http://www.seattlepi.com/vecsey/vecs2110.shtml

Laura Vecsey's '01column (Seattle PI) from the 3rd Sweet 16 captures key details concerning Gonzaga's rise to prominence -- as well as key details about the account.



How small is Gonzaga?

It is so small that even its greatest athletic department embarrassment is more endearing than outright scandalous.

In 1997, the Bulldogs athletics director got in trouble because over the course of 15 years he hid $200,000 in a slush fund university officials did not know existed.

It is a part of Gonzaga's basketball lore no one really wants to talk about, mostly because athletic director and basketball coach Dan Fitzgerald resigned soon after the NCAA charged Gonzaga with violations. Also, it's old news.

"If unethical conduct is trying to keep an understaffed and underfunded program alive, I did that. I did not perceive it at all as being a violation," Fitzgerald said after his resignation from a basketball program he helped build.

In many ways, though, the fact that a basketball coach would tuck ticket and parking revenue, along with reimbursement checks from the West Coast Conference, into a bank account, shows you just how small Gonzaga really is.

Ethically, anyone would be correct to argue that what Fitzgerald did is not much different from the cheating scandal that rocked the University of Minnesota three years ago this week.

Then again, while Gophers coach Clem Haskins got booted for condoning widespread academic fraud -- during which time a Final Four team materialized at Minnesota -- you have to say that what happened at Gonzaga was a little more endearing.

For example, some of the money Fitzgerald tucked away went to pay for a used car that the basketball staff stashed in someone's driveway in the Bay Area to be used during recruiting there. Renting a car was astronomical, and since the recruiting budget was paper thin, wasn't the beater car a great idea?

The violations were so small-time that the NCAA found that Gonzaga realized no recruiting advantage with this money, mostly because the Zags still fell under the NCAA guidelines.

"I've agreed not to comment on that issue and we have moved on," Sladich said. "We have in place financial controls to make sure we do it right, and that's the message that comes down from the president to the athletic department."

seasontixholder
01-21-2010, 04:28 AM
Is it really conceivable that brilliant and worldly guys like Fr. Coughlin, Harry Sladich, Harry Magnuson, etc. had no earthly idea? I have difficulty believing to this day that Fitz was pulling the wool over anybody's eyes in the AD Building. 100k used to be a lot of money in the 90's, and nobody has successfully kept a secret there in 120 years. GU was too small a place to keep that money secret.

More than just me feel like he was allowed to take the fall for others and then hung out to dry. It was easier to lose an Athletic Director in those days than somebody on the third floor of the AD Building.

There is only one guy still living who knows the whole story, and so far he ain't talkin'.

Your hunch is too cute by half, out to sea, and is worthy of a USF paranoiac. The reason why there was never rapprochement between the parties is that the infighting was real, so very bitter, and betrayal was felt by each. The existence of the fund was to hide the incoming monies so that the AD budget wouldn't be cut a commensurate amount by the admin. It wasn't there to hide payments to Reggie Bushs (lol, just look at the type of recruits GU got then), it was there so that items that are chump change for the average 300 RPI program could be covered ... barely. "Shoestring" doesn't begin to describe the situation.

100-200k over that timespan is peanuts. The investigators actually chuckled at the low-rent nature of the expenditures.

Martin Centre Mad Man
01-21-2010, 05:08 AM
The 1990s Athletic Department budget was so small -

That the head basketball coach was also the athletic director. Think about that. We had the head coach of a perennial 20-win Div. I basketball team that was also doubling as the athletic director, because there was so little money in the budget to pay for two qualified persons.

The 1990s Athletic Department budget was so small -

That Fitz once commented to the Spokesman Review that his recruiting budget for the entire Athletic Department (not just the men's basketball team) was smaller than the annual phone bill for the WSU football team.

It is amazing that Fitz was as successful as he was with such limited resources.

The scandal was mildly embarrassing when it happened but it really was a non-event in terms of NCAA investigations and scandals. The AD was hiding money from his own university, not from the NCAA and none of the money was used for anything improper under NCAA guidelines.

CDC84
01-21-2010, 08:00 AM
It wasn't abnormal for Gonzaga assistants to sleep in cars on the recruiting trail because there wasn't even enough money to get a motel for the night.

Ekrub
01-21-2010, 08:35 AM
You shouldn't be bothered by something some fools wrote on a crappy message board. Reactions like this is what gets nerds like those excited. Best thing to do is ignore and move on.

I'm sure Fitz was a great man, don't need to set any record straight here :)

gamagin
01-21-2010, 09:16 AM
back when I was paying attention, and writing a little about it, the rubber met the road at that point when the University contended it had no knowledge of the goings on in the AD and thus had no responsibility.

On the other hand, it was well known that supporters of GU athletics would often send a check directly to GU or to Dan Fitzgerald with a note saying the money was to go for athletics, or whatever Fitz needed it for. How was it well known ? If you knew Fitz, it's likely you were standing there when he was handed money, or offered services, or both.

Checks made out to Dan Fitzgerald had to be signed (endorsed) in order to be cashed by anyone other than Dan. Some would trickle through the system, some would go to the school and be forwarded. Some were direct.

Somewhere in there, dan wound up with a shoebox including cash and checks and used it to run GU athletics, to pay for gas for the women's volleyball team, for flyers to promote an intramural tournament (I think intramurals, from scheduling to equipment, fell under his domain, too, if memory serves -- and was mostly run by students). One such student I recall named Chuck, lived in an apartment in the old Kennel (rent for management). Barter was big, too.

The strong belief among outsiders (i.e. not admn, but like those of us who lived near campus, attended games and knew the principals as neighbors or teachers, parents & relatives & even jerks in some cases) who were still connected to GU, was pretty simple.

The checks with Dan's name on them, the cash he was handed by people who said things like "fix that damned clock", the services he solicited (like a snow fence which materialized around the baseball diamond to prevent spring drifts for reaching the field, or several loads of dirt, volunteers, and on and ON and on) involved more accounting & accountability & paperwork and signatures and requisitions than it cost to just "fix the damned clock."

Thus was born, it is understood, the wink and nod school of accounting that kept the wheels somewhat greased, and the programs humming (if not slouching), and, that ultimately became Dan's undoing.

Obviously, at some time in this evolving process and in ensuing years, GU grew and matured and someone, including Fitz, should have called a time out and cleaned up the old way of doing things. The old days and the old ways were sloppy. Unworkable after a point. If a donor wanted to give $100, or a big chunk of money or services, (s)he needed a receipt instead of a wink and a thanks.

Besides, rules were being developed and GU had a world famous accounting school (well, ok, it was one guy/sports fanatic named Dan Brajcich, but he filled the world with accountants) and a growing law school. Surely an institution with accountants and lawyers abounding could have anticipated this if they had been asked to get involved. So, too, could Fitz have demanded the Admn. begin protecting his operation after a point: he was a member, if not head, of the NCAA rules Committee.

None of this happened, however, until it was too late. Someone blew the whistle on Dan. That is another story which I don't totally recall, but it, too, involved rivalries and more than a little intrigue.

What the whistleblower did do, among other things, was bring Dan down and further divide the Athletic Department, plus train a spotlight on the GU Admn., a spotlight the Admn. was not willing (to this day) to admit any complicity.

Instead, there was faux surprise, imo, on the part of whoever in the University should have reeled the old way back in, changed the modus operendi, called for a better way, conducted an audit and fixed things within, turned to the famed accounting school or perhaps even its most famous accounting teacher, to jump in and straighten out a onetime shoestring operation that had grown into a potential problem in need of fixing.

But it never happened, until it was too late. And after it happened, two very strong camps emerged: those who knew Fitz was doing his best but needed professional help (even if he didn't) that never materialized, and those who said he did this all by himself, without anyone's knowledge much less consent, and should not have done it and therefore was to blame for all the consequences that ensued.

I belong to the camp that believed then and believe now that Fitz did what he felt he had to do, without malice aforethought, and needed some or all of his true friends, in the Admn. & out, to have seen this coming and then, when that failed, to band together and protect him and his spirit, to love him, the way he had proteced & loved them & GU for all those years.

But it never happened.

El Voce
01-21-2010, 09:20 AM
Is it really conceivable that brilliant and worldly guys like Fr. Coughlin, Harry Sladich, Harry Magnuson, etc. had no earthly idea? I have difficulty believing to this day that Fitz was pulling the wool over anybody's eyes in the AD Building. 100k used to be a lot of money in the 90's, and nobody has successfully kept a secret there in 120 years. GU was too small a place to keep that money secret.

More than just me feel like he was allowed to take the fall for others and then hung out to dry. It was easier to lose an Athletic Director in those days than somebody on the third floor of the AD Building.

There is only one guy still living who knows the whole story, and so far he ain't talkin'.

BINGO!

Zag 77
01-21-2010, 10:12 AM
Instead, there was faux surprise, imo, on the part of whoever in the University should have reeled the old way back in, changed the modus operendi, called for a better way, conducted an audit and fixed things within, turned to the famed accounting school or perhaps even its most famous accounting teacher, to jump in and straighten out a onetime shoestring operation that had grown into a potential problem in need of fixing.


Gamagin, I think you are saying the same thing that I am. My theory is that the whole reason for keeping the fund under the table is that there was a significant faculty faction at GU that did not favor D-I athletics, hence the need to keep things off the main books and avoid confronting that faction directly. I think when the stuff hit the fan, it would have looked like hell for an S.J. to take the blame. Hence the reason why things turned out as they did. Maybe they thought the whole NCAA deal would be fairly unnoticed and that life would go on. Instead, the NCAA investigation turned into a big public mess and somebody had to take the fall. And that is why the feeling of betrayal. Giving Fitz a fundraising job after being AD would have been understood as a public demotion and punishment. That is why he did not take it. He basically told them to go to hell.


What the whistleblower did do, among other things, was bring Dan down and further divide the Athletic Department, plus train a spotlight on the GU Admn., a spotlight the Admn. was not willing (to this day) to admit any complicity.


That is my theory. Can I prove it? No, unless the last living figure comes out on this.

There is no way you can convince me the guys in the AD building had no idea. In those days you could not burp in Kennedy Pavilion without having the janitor in the AD building know about it. There is no way at GU in those days you could successfully hide a conspiracy. Too many people could see what was going on in the athletic dept. and it would be all over the grapevine in about 3 minutes.



It is probably time to let it go. I just don't like Fitz' memory being tainted by the notion (not denied by GU administration) that he was a cheater. I don't like Fitz' role at GU to be "officially" erased like Stalin used to do with Soviet history books. I think it stinks that Fitz is not mentioned in the Decade of Excellence video and that he is barely mentioned in the press guides of the last 10 years.

I will quit rocking the boat.

ZagNative
01-21-2010, 10:29 AM
Thank you, gamagin. That helps a lot to fill in the blanks.