Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Open Secret?

August 10, 2009

By Pete Thamel

Remember the so-called “secret agreement” that was the basis of Kansas State suing the former coach Ron Prince to get out of $3.2 million it owed him?

Well, it doesn’t appear like it was that big of a secret to Kansas State.

In a statement released Monday by Prince’s agent, Neil Cornrich, in response to the suit, he says that Kansas State had intimate knowledge of what it called a “secret.” Cornrich claims that agreement was actually “conceived, suggested, and drafted” by Kansas State’s attorneys and its athletic department.

An athletic department audit into Kansas State’s financial activities released a few months ago seems to back this up, as Prince was one of five athletic department employees who had an arrangement where their payment came from outside the athletic department.

Cornrich said in the statement that in the case of Prince, “KSU insisted that the additional guarantee be contained in a separate, confidential memorandum.”

That means that the agreement, which was made under the umbrella of Kansas State’s “Intercollegiate Athletic Council,” wasn’t part of the public record. So it’s embarrassing when the university suddenly has to cough up $3.2 million. Especially when it is not exactly an economic boom time in this country, never mind in rural Manhattan where Kansas State is located.

Agreements like this are not uncommon across college football. Rutgers got in hot water last year when The Star-Ledger found out that Greg Schiano was getting an extra quarter of a million dollars. Let’s not forget the money and years of work Penn State has put in to not reveal the details of Joe Paterno’s contract.

In both cases, the university ends up with some egg on its face. But it leaves the question of why universities would try to hide compensation. Will the practice only increase in this economy, as football coaches salaries escalate and members of the English department get laid off? Or will schools learn their lesson and be up front about how much money they’re paying their coaches, no matter how exorbitant the salaries and buyouts are.

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