cptau 124 Posted March 27, 2015 Share Posted March 27, 2015 The real REC at work........ http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/paul_bryant_jrs_bank_is_the_ti.html#incart_most-comments They don't call it a family at the University of Alabama for nothing. The connections in those halls of power are woven together like ... houndstooth. Just look at them. Karen P. Brooks, who replaced Paul Bryant Jr. as president pro tempore on the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, is on the board of directors at Bryant Bank - founded by Paul Bryant Jr., son of legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Gov. Robert Bentley serves by virtue of his office as ex officio president of the UA Board of Trustees. His son, John Mark Bentley, is a vice president at Bryant Bank. Angus Cooper II is a longtime member of the UA Board of Trustees, and now a trustee emeritus. His son, Angus Cooper III, is a member of the board of directors at Bryant Bank. Barbara Humphrey, a member of the UA Board of Trustees and the board's athletic committee -considered a UAB-friendly appointee because of her time as an athlete and coach there -- is married to UA football legend Bobby Humphrey. Bobby Humphrey is a vice president at Bryant Bank. Paul Bryant Jr. is listed as chairman of the Crimson Tide Foundation, which in 2004 reported $34 million in revenue but has since stopped reporting to the IRS in public documents. The elder Cooper served on the board of directors of that group, as does current trustee William Britt Sexton. Treasurer of the foundation, which "provides a channel through which gifts are solicited" for UA athletic programs, is Scott M. Phelps, who is a founding member and director of Bryant Bank. The ties reach into other departments, too. UA Senior Associate Athletics Director Finus Gaston is a member of the board of directors at Bryant Bank. UA Associate Director of Planned Giving William "Butch" Hughes also is a member of the board of directors at Bryant Bank. The Houndstooth Family runs deep. And wide. A Bryant Bank spokeswoman said there is no conflict in those relationships, and that none of the bank employees were hired because of their UA affiliation. But the problem does not rest with the bank. It is, after all, a private institution. The problem is with the board of trustees itself: a public board representing a public institution on behalf of the people of Alabama, who built it and bought it and supported it and continue to cheer it on. Asked about the relationships, Board of Trustees spokeswoman Kellee Reinhart issued a statement saying only this: "The Board has rules and procedures in place to protect against conflicts of interest. These include Board Rules 106 and 106.2, both of which can be found on our website." But it doesn't address the real issue of influence and power. This board doesn't act like a public institution. It acts like a family business, interrelated and dependent, compromised and compromising. It is a family business that, too often, considers its business none of your business. The Houndstooth Family runs silent. This board for decades has operated in the smoke and the shadows, thumbing its nose at public records and open meetings laws, discouraging conversation among board members in the light of day. It has operated with a patrician's belief that it knows best, answering only to itself. It did not start with UAB and its quest to keep and expand football, but the secrecy is demonstrated there. It has been widely known that Bryant - who led the UA board for a maximum three terms - long opposed UAB football along with a core group of trustees. And all have been silent. It was no surprise last week when AL.com called all 17 University trustees about that issue, and got meaningful responses from absolutely none. That's the way business works in this family. With these relationships, it is easy to see how it happens. These trustees, remember, are given the extraordinary power to re-appoint themselves and their successors. They are a self-perpetuating body. Which means less-opinionated and less-powerful trustees can go along, or they can get along out the doorway. For years trustees went into executive session to choose their members as if for fraternity rush. When told 15 years ago that it broke the open meetings law, then board Chairman Jack Edwards said he didn't know anything about that. "We have historically voted this way for trustees," he said. The result has been a board in which a powerful cabal of trustees - names like Finis St. John IV, Joe Espy and for years Paul Bryant Jr. himself - not only make decisions, but fill out the board with a malleable majority of less-invested trustees who simply enjoy the perks and promises that come with resisting the urge to make waves. They've been called out time and time again for holding secret meetings, shrugging off public records requests, ignoring or sidestepping the law. In 2001 a committee of trustees met in secret a day after a court barred Auburn's board of trustees from doing the same thing. Later, when Guy Bailey resigned as UA president, trustees held a closed meeting the next day and came out with a new president. Bam. A unanimous vote for Judy Bonner sealed the deal. And of course when UAB supporters went to Tuscaloosa in support of a Southside stadium, trustees did not even give them the courtesy of a hearing. They simply ignored the students from Birmingham and killed the plan without a word. Because they don't believe they answer to anyone. The Crimson Tide Foundation - which two years ago bought Nick Saban's house for almost $3.1 million -- is a perfect example. In February AL.com sought IRS filings on that foundation as well as Auburn's similar Tigers Unlimited Foundation. Auburn complied, but Alabama said they no longer file IRS 990s. When Deborah M. Lane -- assistant to the president and associate VP for University Relations - finally explained that decision this week she said the group believes it does not have to file the form because it is affiliated with a government entity: The UA Board of Trustees. Which would make that foundation's books ... public. Yet the dance goes on, as the family tries to keep it all in the family. They have been allowed to do it so long, by politicians and by media too scared, too cheap, or too homer to challenge it. But this is not about team loyalty. It is not about Alabama's success on the field or Auburn's or UAB's. It is about a system that is insidious and incestuous, a tradition of unlimited power that trades unfairly on Alabama loyalty. In the Houndstooth Family, the will of a powerful few becomes the mandate for all. And you can take that - and all the public money that goes into it - to the bank. As long as you know which one. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/03/alabama_trustees_not_answering.html#incart_related_stories As of Tuesday night, no member of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees would admit to AL.com that they had any prior knowledge of documents that emerged Monday that suggest the board made plans to eliminate the University of Alabama at Birmingham football team well before UAB President Ray Watts announced the decision on Dec. 2. AL.com made concerted attempts to contact all 17 members of the self-nominating board on Monday and Tuesday, hoping to learn more about who was aware of the documents, as well as their import and the context in which they were drafted. But of the 17 members, two declined to comment, five were out of the office according to their representatives, and seven did not respond to inquiries in any way. The three who commented did not admit having any prior knowledge of the documents. I did not hear about anything concerning UAB football. Trustee Harris V. Morrissette said via phone Tuesday afternoon that he had not read about the documents, and suggested that inquiries instead be directed to other officials such as Watts or University of Alabama Chancellor Robert Witt. "I have an email that somebody sent me about the article but I didn't have a chance to read it. But I'll read it," Morrissette said. "But I wouldn't have any comment on that ... I appreciate you calling and I will the read the article. I appreciate everything you're doing covering the issue. Thank you very much." Barbara Humphrey, a UA trustee who serves on the board's athletics committee, was on UAB's first track team in 1986, has a daughter currently on the track team and works as an athletics coach, denied knowing about the documents at the time of their creation. A newer member of the board, her first meeting with the trustees was in September, when many of the documents were written. "I didn't know anything that was going on then. I just got on the board, so I can't provide any information," she said via phone Monday. "I did not hear about anything concerning UAB football." Gov. Robert J. Bentley, who serves as president ex officio of the UA Board of Trustees, told reporters Monday at an unrelated event at Birmingham's Harbert Center that he was not aware of the plan to cut the school's football team until it was publicly announced. "I found out about it when y'all found out about it," he said. "I'm not going to talk about UAB football so that's all the questions I'm going to answer on that." No other trustee had spoken on the record with AL.com about the bombshell documents as of Tuesday evening. A representative for William Britt Sexton said via phone Monday that he was out of the office and mentioned a forthcoming statement from the board, which appears to have been a reference to a written statement Witt released later that day. "During nine years as President of The University of Alabama, I worked side-by-side with this Board of Trustees to help grow the campus and the System," Witt wrote. "There is no doubt that our governing structure and the synergies of UA, UAB and UAH are a point of tremendous pride for Alabama and a model for the nation. It is extremely unfortunate that a vocal few would choose to disagree." Kellee Reinhart, spokeswoman for Witt and the Board of Trustees said Tuesday afternoon that the board and Witt had no further official comment on the matter for the time being. Representatives for trustees Finis E. St. John IV, Thomas R. Bice, Joseph C. Espy III, John D. Johns, and James W. Wilson III said that they were all away from their offices as well. None of these trustees personally returned AL.com's requests for comment. Trustees Karen P. Brooks, John England, Jr., Vanessa Leonard, Marietta M. Urquhart, Kenneth L. Vandervoort and W. Davis Malone III did not return AL.com's inquiries, nor did anyone representing them. Ronald W. Gray declined via phone to provide comment for this story, and a representative for Paul W. Bryant, Jr. called AL.com back to request more details, but Bryant did not ultimately provide comment. Alabama state Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, held a press conference Monday morning during which he released the documents, accused Watts of lying for months about the decision to cut the teams, and called on him to resign. "This is deceit and treachery at its worst," Williams said. "Action must be taken." Watts responded to the statement and others like it Monday afternoon, calling them "inaccurate." "Mr. Williams claims the football decision was made prior to the 2014 season," Watts stated Monday afternoon. "This is categorically untrue." On Monday, UAB issued a written statement in response to the emergence of the documents and subsequent reporting on the topic. "At UAB, as with any major organization, it is common to prepare for potential scenarios from a communications standpoint, even prior to a final decision being made," the statement read. "These documents are consistent with such a process. The decision was final in November after all information was garnered and analyzed." The documents obtained by AL.com show that the New York public relations outfit Sard Verbinnen & Co. drafted detailed plans for UAB to announce last September announcement that it was cutting the football, rifle and women's bowling teams. Heeding the advice of Sard Verbinnen and an outside firm called CarrSports Consulting, the school decided that it was best to hold off on announcing the teams' elimination until the end of the football team's regular season, according to the documents. The revelations contained within the documents suggest that Watts was misleading the public as well as the UAB community when he said at least three different times in November and December that the decision to eliminate the teams was not made until November. The documents include a directive on Sard Verbinnen letterhead that then-UAB football coach Bill Clark and/or then-UAB athletics director Brian Mackin "notify assistant football coaches and coaches of other cut teams, followed by football players and players of other cut teams" on Sept. 17, aka "announcement day." The documents also suggest that Sard Verbinnen drafted a Sept. 5 memo advising UAB director of media relations Jim Bakken that it would be wise to announce the elimination of the teams after the football season had ended, suggesting that Dec. 1 or Dec. 2 would be the "most suitable" dates to do so. The public relations firms wrote in the memo that pushing the announcement date back to December would allay the possibility of "a critical mass of immediate transfer requests ... where students refuse to finish out the season" or "a full team boycott." "If not effectively managed," the memo states, "it is conceivable that UAB would not be able to field a competitive team - or any team." Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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