U of M president releases action plan for closer oversight

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 11, 2015 7:30 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler promised greater oversight of athletics department spending Friday after an internal auditor found frequent policy violations under former athletic director Norwood Teague, and Kaler said his administration will consider discipline for employees who received improper reimbursements for expenses.

Kaler spoke at a Board of Regents meeting as he released an action plan to address sexual harassment and tighten financial oversight of Gopher athletics.

"It's important that we hold individuals accountable if the facts warrant," Kaler said.

The plan includes a new financial oversight group that he said would strengthen the culture of financial compliance in athletics and ensure that appropriate financial controls are in place. The group will be chaired by Richard Pfutzenreuter, the university's chief financial officer.

But Kaler also said many of the problems disclosed in a pair of reports released Tuesday already have been addressed by interim athletic director Beth Goetz, who replaced Teague after he resigned in August in the wake of a sexual harassment incident. He said Goetz already is setting a better example for responsible spending.

In one of those reports, Gail Klatt, associate vice president for internal audit, detailed about $19,000 in improper reimbursements for top athletics department officials from the time of Teague's hiring in June 2012 to his resignation last August. Klatt also called attention to questionable spending on travel, moving expenses and alcohol that didn't necessarily violate the university's rules. She said the university would try to recover $6,669 from Teague and $434 from his top associate, Mike Ellis, who resigned last month.

"The people of Minnesota have a right to expect better from all of us charged with operating this great institution," Kaler said.

Kaler said the plan will be in place by Jan. 19 and he'll provide an update on progress during the regents' February meeting.