Our View: Transparency now

Feb 152009

Four years ago, a financial auditor alleged that Nelligan Sports Marketing, CSU’s contracted marketing firm for Athletics and now departments across campus, was guilty of “sloppy” and unethical accounting practices.

As reported in today’s Collegian, the embattled firm was red-flagged by an independent auditor commissioned by CSU who cited issues ranging from unjustified travel expenses to a budgeted salary for a position that didn’t exist.

What’s more, the New Jersey-based company has allegedly prompted conflicts and legal disputes with several other universities under their representation, including DePaul, St. John’s and Temple, for similar discrepancies.

But most importantly, our university reviewed the audits and did nothing.

In fact, former CSU President Larry Penley — who resigned abruptly amid a shroud of criticism for his own questionable financial philosophy — “mandated” Nelligan’s contract restructuring that “effectively gave the company completely free, and unabated, usage of a portion of revenue.”

The university essentially conceded to a company with a besmirched reputation for one reason: desperation.

The struggling Athletics Department increased its revenue since 2005 by 55 percent, largely due to NSM. But as the financial well-being of CSU has been dire and will inevitably become more so, the university should work vigilantly to not lower its standards — even if it means more money.

Gary Ozzello, the director for external operations in Athletics, told the Collegian in an e-mail message, “Our relationship and the results generated by Nelligan Sports Marketing have been tremendous in a short period of time, and we are optimistic both will continue to grow in the future.”

In a 2005 CSU report, the company had brought in more than $2 million, nearly $730,000 of which the university received. But now the company has free reign to spend CSU’s marketing revenue as it wishes and in the end, to tarnish the name of this institution.

In an era in which Interim President Tony Frank has promised transparency in monetary dealings in our own house, maybe it’s time to take a second look at the companies with which we have financial dealings and contracts.

If CSU really cares about transparency and ethical accounting practices, they will take another look at Nelligan Sports Marketing.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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