Bill Moos will always be the guy who got the football operations building built and hired Mike Leach as coach of the Washington State Cougars, and for that, there will certainly be some fans who will find his legacy unimpeachable.
But as time passes, the shine is coming off for some — including myself.
For example, consider today’s news, in which PullmanRadio.com reports that an internal WSU audit has revealed that “the environment within Athletics did not support a culture of compliance or fiscal responsibility.”
You can read the findings yourself, but here are the highlights — or lowlights:
- The athletics department did a poor job of tracking who was using complimentary tickets to football games, including one instance in which four premium seats were given away, but the record of whom they had been given to had been destroyed by former Deputy Athletics Director Mike Marlow.
- The school’s contract with IMG was changed without going through the proper channels, including an addendum that was not subject to competitive bidding. Additionally, IMG received more than $40,000 worth of tickets beyond what was required by the contract.
- Athletics staff was offered discounts on tickets that potentially violated state laws against special privileges and benefits. Additionally, the discounts — which had been in place since 2012 — might have cost WSU more than $130,000 in revenue in 2016 alone. And half of the staff who took advantage of the discount never actually fully paid for their seats, including one unnamed staffer who owed roughly $3,000.
Now, if you haven’t worked in government, you probably don’t think any of this sounds that bad. But if you have worked in government, you’d know that pretty much all of these things are Public Institutions 101 — you don’t destroy records, you don’t offer special benefits to people, you don’t modify contracts without going through the proper channels. You just don’t. These are all things that can create liability for the institution, and if you’ve worked in the public sphere for more than about five minutes, you know this.
If the people involved somehow didn’t know the basic guidelines of public record keeping and contract making, they were woefully unqualified to hold their positions. More likely is that these things are so well-known by virtually anyone working in government that one can draw the conclusion that the people involved simply were being willfully deceitful.
Given that this report comes on the heels of WSU revealing that athletics’ continuing operating deficits have now placed it $67 million in the red, as well as the publication of Title IX violations by former associate AD of compliance John Lucier, we’re starting to get a picture of an athletics department that was a bit out of control under the direction of Moos.
(This doesn’t even include the unconscionable contract and rollovers given to men’s basketball coach Ernie Kent.)
All of the people named in the report — Moos, Marlow and former CAF director Uri Farkas — have all moved on to other jobs. Marlow is now the AD at Northern Arizona University. Farkas followed him there.
We don’t yet know what kind of AD Pat Chun will be, but it’s become clear to me that Moos’ sudden departure for Nebraska back in October was a huge blessing for the university. Yes, the FOB needed to be built for WSU to be able to be competitive with its peers, and hiring Leach was a master stroke. For that, Moos will always deserve credit, and it’s not his fault that the Pac-12 Networks haven’t panned out.
But mounting evidence makes it appear increasingly likely that Moos was simply uninterested in the actual hard work of running an athletics department. And that’s disappointing ... and inexcusable.