BEVO BEAT

Texas athletic officials reprimanded over ‘conflict of interest’ purchases

Posted October 10th, 2014

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Two University of Texas athletic department officials have been disciplined after an internal audit revealed the department’s top academic adviser oversaw purchases worth $28,727 over 16 years from her own antique store.

The report, obtained exclusively by the American-Statesman, states that academic adviser Randa Ryan violated school policy on conflict of interest issues and self-dealing. However, “no one reviewed relevant policies” to determine whether Ryan could route orders for office decor, lamps and pillows through Old Mill Store, co-owned by Ryan and her husband.

As a result, Ryan has received a letter of reprimand and will not receive any pay raises for the 2014-15 fiscal year. She was scheduled to receive a merit raise of 2.75 percent and a salary bump for a bigger workload this fall. Her annual compensation package for the previous fiscal year was $236,250.

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In addition, UT executive senior associate athletic director Ed Goble also will be reprimanded and suspended without pay for one month for “failure to properly supervise these purchases and incorrectly advising” Ryan that the purchases were acceptable. Goble, formerly the department’s business manager, earned $230,625 over the last fiscal year.

The internal audit was triggered after the American-Statesman reported on May 8 that Ryan had overseen at least 22 purchase orders totaling $20,454.30 since 2007. The audit revealed the total dollar amount was higher than the Statesman uncovered and that purchases began in 1997.

The Travis County district attorney’s office also reviewed the case and determined “it was common knowledge among senior staff” that Ryan owned the store in Wimberley. Ryan also “may have entered misleading responses on disclosure forms due to confusion about the process,” assistant district attorney Holly Taylor wrote in a letter to school officials.

While it’s evident the purchases “presented an obvious conflict of interest,” Ryan’s actions did not constitute a felony, Taylor wrote to Patricia Ohlendorf, UT’s vice president for legal affairs.

“UT-Austin has rules regarding conflicts of interest,” UT President Bill Powers said in a statement. “All of our employees must understand and follow them.

“Our Office of Internal Audits has conducted a thorough investigation and determined that some athletics department purchases violated those rules,” Powers added. “Our Athletics Directors are implementing the recommendations of the audit, holding their employees accountable and improving the training surrounding conflicts of interest.

“As a public institution, we must be transparent and accountable in all of our business dealings.”

For more information on this story, stay tuned to Statesman.com.

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