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Friday October 20th, 2017 3:18AM

APNewsBreak: Critical audit another blow for Iowa athletics

By The Associated Press
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Missing iPads. Unnecessary travel. Improper credit card purchases.

A recent audit of the University of Iowa athletics department found that administrators failed to adequately monitor information technology purchases, allowing wasteful spending and creating major risks for equipment theft. The department's IT director, Patrick Delin, left his job in February as auditors were nearing the conclusion of an inquiry that was sharply critical of his practices, Iowa confirmed this week.

The audit comes at a difficult time for athletic director Gary Barta. Last week, a jury awarded $1.4 million in damages for discrimination, unequal pay and retaliation cited by his former top aide, Jane Meyer. At trial, the university argued that deputy athletic director Gene Taylor was paid $70,000 more than Meyer because his job included overseeing IT.

The 10-page report was unknown to Meyer's lawyers, who successfully argued she was doing similar or more work than Taylor for less pay.

"It turns out the one extra area they claimed Taylor was doing was being handled incredibly poorly," said Meyer attorney Tom Newkirk, who added that he would have used the report to cross-examine Taylor. "We're very disturbed that the university didn't produce this report prior to trial."

Taylor left last month to become athletic director at Kansas State. He didn't immediately respond to an inquiry.

In a statement Thursday evening, Barta said the school assisted with the audit after discovering "specific department guidelines may have been compromised" and has adopted its recommendations. He said Iowa is awaiting the results of a related investigation by the state auditor's office.

The Associated Press obtained the report from the Board of Regents, which was recently warned that the findings revealed unacceptable weaknesses. The report found an array of questionable practices in IT, where purchasing expenses skyrocketed by 43 percent in one year.

The waste ranged from five football players who weren't charged for school-issued iPads that were missing when they left to an employee caught making personal purchases on a department credit card. That employee refunded the money during the audit; the university hasn't identified the individual or released details of the spending.

The report said one employee took two trips for "training" that didn't appear to be related to job duties — including to a conference for association executives — while another needlessly extended a trip by three days at a $530 cost. It said supervisory reviews of travel were ineffective, allowing unnecessary and excessive spending.

Delin, 39, had worked since 2012 as IT director, earning $100,000 annually. The university said he left Feb. 2 but declined to elaborate, calling it a confidential personnel matter. A phone number for him rang unanswered. The audit was dated Feb. 21 and sent to President Bruce Harreld and Barta.

Auditors cited several weaknesses in the oversight of purchasing, discovering two vouchers with the wrong receipts attached. They also found that Delin used a subordinate's credit card when his neared its monthly transaction limits, circumventing a key spending control and violating guidelines.

Auditors found that televisions, tablets, Apple watches and MiFi hotspots were either poorly tracked or not tracked at all. More than 120 pieces of equipment were listed as belonging to employees who no longer work there; some had been gone five years. Old equipment wasn't disposed of as required through the university Surplus Department, increasing the risk of theft. Over a three-year period, the department bought 72 tablets on credit cards and submitted one to Surplus.

The report faulted Delin's handling of phones that were loaned to employees who traveled internationally or needed hotspots. The department wasn't reviewing bills to ensure employees paid for personal calls and that they were in compliance with NCAA recruiting guidelines. One phone was used by a staffer for an extended period without approval from management.

Department leaders vowed to review all policies related to how they buy, track and dispose of equipment and to tighten oversight of spending, travel and cellphones.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, College Sports
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