The State Auditor released an audit Friday on the University of New Mexico Athletics Department, revealing the University has missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, due to what the audit calls “a lack of financial controls and confusion about responsibilities among staff.”
“A tangled web of transactions has made it difficult for the public, and even some of the financial staff at the University, to be able to decipher what is going on in the Athletics Department and the various supporting organizations,” State Auditor Tim Keller said in a press release after the audit was shared.
The audit reported: $432,000 in uncollected revenue for luxury and club suites at Dreamstyle Arena , $250,000 in uncollected revenue from a contract with Lobo Sports Properties and finally $185,000 in overpayments to coaches, which have since been recouped.
The audit also revealed “problematic perks,” meaning public money commingled with money that was raised by the Lobo Club and other booster groups — those funds were used for purchases that “should have been purchased with Foundation funds but are not an appropriate use of public funds. The lack of clear policy and sources of funds leads to an appearance of impropriety at best and violations of the anti-donation clause of the New Mexico Constitution at worst.” The audit found 23 recipients of perks that did not make any sort of monetary donation to the University.
The audit also dives into the “no clear lines of accountability” within the Lobo Club and similar organizations.
“The Lobo Club and dozens of similar organizations lack a requirement for a treasurer position, a vital best practice; the Athletics Department has not had a Financial Officer for the majority of the past five years; UNM has combined the following roles into one position: Executive Vice President for Administration, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer (EVP/CFO/COO); and, a lack of clarity about UNM’s Internal Audit communications to UNM’s EVP/CFO/COO instead of reporting solely to the President and Regents as intended.”
Finally, the audit addresses the “circular flow of money” at UNM, money moves between UNM and its supporting organizations and “makes individual accountability for financial decisions nearly impossible.”
UNM has agreed with the findings, and will be billing Lobo Sports Properties for the outstanding balance as well as changing its contract administration standards. Interim President Chaouki Abdallah responded to the report in a letter that was provided to the Albuquerque Journal.
“It is apparent from the observations and findings contained in this report that the Athletics Department must in the future operate under closer financial and managerial supervision,” Abdallah said. The findings, as well as the recent arrival of Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez, as well as the impending arrival of new University President Garnett Stokes provide “an opportunity to move into a new era for Lobo Athletics.”
The University shared a release, stating it has already begun implementing changes, and Nuñez was also conducting his own evaluation.
Cameron Goeldner is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger.