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Tuesday, August 16, 2011


How much is Chancellor Bill Goetz's actions going to cost North Dakota Taxpayers in legal fees and severance pay?



 Yesterday, we told you how new information uncovered by Brian Howell at KFYR-TV now confirms the chatter and rumors that have been coming out of Dickinson regarding the still developing enrollment scandal.


Today, we have more breaking news confirming that this scandal is way bigger than fudging enrollment numbers.


It turns out that student athletes have been receiving illegal cash payments from scholarship funds.




University System lawyers allowed DSU officials to release a memo dated Dec. 15, 2010, to NBC North Dakota News. It was sent to DSU`s vice president for student development from a school staffer who said a few student athletes visited an office on campus to find out why cash scholarship payments to cover housing had stopped after their volleyball coach, Ryan Platt, was fired.

The memo goes on to say that DSU staffers were surprised and confused because it was highly irregular and possibly illegal. 

The memo said that the student athletes were then sent to see Tim Daniels, DSU`s athletic director. The staffer said this is the first time anyone knew of the cash payments to students and then said that Daniels said the fired coach had advised the student athletes to transfer out, but so far one of them was enrolled in the Spring 2011 semester.

Other documents that were requested, sources said, show that high-ranking school officials approved additional scholarship dollars to go to the student athletes. They said school officials should have conducted an investigation into whether this really happened and notified the NAIA.


This has major implications for DSU because scandals involving cash being paid to student athletes tend to result in athletic programs being ineligible for playoff games, or shut down completely for a few years.


Beyond the tax dollars involved in the athletic programs directly, Dickinson State University has a brand new, $16 million stadium and activities center - paid for with tax dollars.


Prior to KFYR-TV obtaining these documents describing the student athlete payoff scandal, NDTA had been working with PlainsDaily.com to uncover the "bigger scandal" that was being talked about on campus. 


In July, Dickinson State University and the North Dakota University System had denied the existence of the documents that KFYR-TV now has.


DSU Vice President Alvin Binstock told PlainsDaily that there were no email records involving "audits, risk assessments, or financial management" availible.

After PlainsDaily mentioned the possibility of filing an Open Records Violation report with the Attorney General's office, they were then told that they would be charged $500 for 20 hours of work to review the requested documents.


This is a tactic that government agencies use to prevent the public from obtaining public records.  Government agencies scare people into backing off by telling them it will cost a lot of money to get the documents.  It is a scare tactic used to cover-up wrongdoing.


NDTA has been down this road before, back in July 2010 when we were investigating the State Data Center's involvement in a political coalition's efforts, we were told it would cost over $800 for 30 hours of billable time to review the documents we requested.  (Here's the invoice for that ordeal.)


It is becoming more clear every day that this cover-up involves more than former DSU President Richard McCallum.  Multiple members of the Dickinson State University administration are clearly involved in the wrongdoing and the cover-up.


With yesterday's revelation that Chancellor Bill Goetz knew more about this than anyone at the June meeting where McCallum received his annual pay raise, it's obvious that by convincing the State Board of Higher Education to fire McCallum before this full investigation was done that Goetz opened the state up to a lawsuit.


And a lawsuit is already in the works.


From the Bismarck Tribune (via the Associated Press):


The attorney for fired Dickinson State president Richard McCallum is questioning the timing of an investigation into the school's athletic department.


Attorney Ben Thomas of Fargo said Thursday he finds it curious that North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz ordered a preliminary review of DSU athletics shortly after McCallum was let go over allegations of inflated enrollment numbers at the college.


"Dr. McCallum was asked to resign over a minor, relatively inconsequential, enrollment reporting error," Thomas said. "Now, a new investigation has been initiated. That raises the question of whether the new investigation is an attempt to find justification for a firing that, on its face, seems unjustified."



Now the question for the taxpayers is: "How much will Chancellor Bill Goetz's efforts to cover-up the scandal by firing Richard McCallum as quickly as possible cost the taxpayers by way of severance pay and legal fees?"


More to come...

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