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More on the ever-so-corrupt Fiesta Bowl and the University of Connecticut's money problems

Posted by Jesse Singal  March 30, 2011 03:24 PM

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The University of Connecticut, like many universities, is not in great financial shape at the moment: it just announced that student tuition and fees will rise 2.5 percent next year as the school attempts to close a $45 million 2011-2012 budget gap.

It looks like at least some of that money went to a nonprofit organization that spends its revenue on things like strippers, political contributions, and lavish birthday parties.

Let me explain: A few weeks ago, I bemoaned the fact that UConn's football team's January appearance in the Fiesta Bowl cost the school around $1.6 million:

$1.6 million may not be a lot of money in the grand scheme of UConn's overall budget, but isn't it a lot for a non-profit educational institution to blow on a single football game? Something is very wrong with a system in which schools get punished for athletic success. If I were an administrator or student at UConn, the question I would be asking is: Who did profit off of the Fiesta Bowl?

Yesterday's New York Times provided at least a partial answer:

Top executives at the Fiesta Bowl funneled campaign contributions to local politicians, flew other Arizona elected officials around the country at the bowl’s expense, racked up a $1,200 bill at a strip club and even spent $30,000 on a birthday party for the chief executive, according to an investigative report commissioned by the bowl’s board of directors.

The most serious revelations involve nearly a dozen employees who told investigators that the chief executive and others working for the bowl, the host of one of the nation’s pre-eminent college football games, encouraged them to make political contributions, then reimbursed them with sham bonus payments. Some said they were then pressured to lie about the practice.

Remember that UConn is a nonprofit entity and college athletes can't accept a dime (outside of athletic training and scholarship-related educational resources) in exchange for their considerable talents. So this is a pretty sweet deal the organizers of the Fiesta Bowl — which is a nonprofit charity — have set up: Under the guise of college sports, which everyone feels good about and which supposedly reflect all sorts of Important Values, money is redistributed from the budget-shortfall-afflicted University of Connecticut to the pockets of Fiesta Bowl employees, who then spend it on... well, strip clubs, for one thing.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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