When the men’s-only football team was reincarnated at Carleton University a few years ago, the university community was promised that it would be entirely funded externally, without a dime of university monies. The Carleton press release of 15 August 2013 stated, “The team will be fully funded by Old Crows Football.” That promise was recently broken when the vice president finance secretly injected a half-million dollars of internal funds into football for the upcoming season.
On 21 June 2016 I submitted a question for the board’s open session question period regarding this matter. To my surprise, the chair of the board read my question verbatim in open session, even though it contained information from the minutes of the board’s executive committee meeting of 14 April 2016, suggesting once again that executive committee documents should be open to the public. I had expected the chair to at least paraphrase my query so that he would not be leaking information that was supposedly confidential. My question, that the chair of the board read aloud, was:
On 14 April 2016, the executive committee approved a half-million dollars from our ancillary budget to cover men’s-only football. Will this large new expense be discussed at the open session of the board on 28 June 2016, i.e. placed on the open session agenda, especially since the Carleton community was promised that football would be solely supported via external funding and the ancillary budget is an open session item?
Not only was the earlier promise of no internal funds for football abrogated, but the university and board tried to hide this information. Less than a month before the half-million dollars was shunted to football, the full board in open session passed the 2016/2017 ancillary budget on 21 March 2016, but that ancillary budget contained no internal monies for football. Twelve days after the board’s executive committee tacitly approved the half-million dollars of internal funding for football, the full board met in open session on 26 April 2016, but not a word was mentioned about this football expense. The only place I had ever seen this half-million dollar expense for football was buried in the executive committee minutes of 14 April 2016 that was recently distributed to board members.
At the 28 June 2016 open session of the full board, in response to the question at question period, the vice president finance said that he personally approved the half-million dollars from capital funds for football and that this was for information only, i.e. the board did not need to approve this expense. My jaw dropped, but nobody else said a word. How is this not a conflict of interest when Carleton’s vice president finance is a board member on Old Crow Football? Why have an ancillary budget and why have the board approve it if the administration can simply change it days later, at will, without meaningfully consulting the board or the community?
Half-million dollars is not a trivial sum. It could go to many good causes. It could be used to offset tuition increases or used for scholarships. Ironically, on the day before I first learned about this outrageous (no longer) secret expenditure, I blogged about how university football throughout North America is almost always a huge financial loser. Apparently that is still true at Carleton. Financial burdens were why Carleton scrapped the football team in the 1990s (here). I wonder how much more of our university budget will get diverted to a sexist and violent activity like football in subsequent years…and whether the university community will even hear about this.
This debacle provides another example why the Carleton community has lost confidence in the university president, vice president finance, chair of the board, and chair of the board’s governance committee. In my opinion, these individuals should stand down from all administrative duties at Carleton, including serving on its board, until they have successfully addressed the specific non-confidence complaints and then regained the confidence of Carleton’s faculty, staff, and graduate students.
This post only reflects my opinions and reporting of what occurred at open sessions of the board. I do not report on anything gleaned from closed sessions. I welcome your comments and feedback.