Nebraska Athletic Director Covered Up Multi-Million Dollar
Gift to Eliminate Men's Swimming -- June 29, 2001 From swiminfo
of Nebraska Discontinues Mens Swimming and Diving
Iowa State Discontinues
Men's Swimming l
in the Nick of Time
PHOENIX, June 29. AN investigation by swiminfo
and Swimming World magazine has uncovered startling
new information about the decision to cut mens swimming
at the University of Nebraska.
Several reliable sources allege that at the time University
of Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Byrne was announcing his
decision to eliminate the Cornhuskers mens swimming
program last April, the university had already concluded negotiations
to accept a multi-million dollar gift from communications
giant, All-Tel Corporation. Byrne cited financial reasons
for eliminating the 70 year-old mens swim program, whose
budget comprised just over one percent of Nebraskas
Byrne, who previously served as Athletic Director of the University
of Oregon before coming to Lincoln, also cut mens swimming
at that university.
According to these same sources, negotiations which had gone
on for several months, were completed no later than early
March - more than a month before the decision to eliminate
the swimming program was announced.
These sources indicate that a decision was made to withhold
the announcement of the gift of approximately $8 million until
late summer for two reasons: so no one would say that the
money was, in fact, available when the decision was made to
eliminate mens swimming; and to coincide with the beginning
of the football season.
A telephone call to All-Tel CEO Joe Ford in Little Rock, Arkansas,
where the companys corporate headquarters are located,
was referred to Jessica Brogdon, chair of the committee that
reviews all corporate contributions. Brogdon commented: "I
dont know anything about such a gift, but I will look
into it and get back to you."
Dwayne Hebda, a spokesman for All-Tels corporate giving
in Nebraska, said: "I have no details (on the gift) at
this time. We are deferring to the university for all announcements
In a telephone conversation, University of Nebraska Chancellor
Harvey Perlman commented: "I am not prepared to confirm
or deny that such a gift exists nor, if it does exist, whether
or not I knew about it at the time the decision was made to
prune mens swimming."
"I can say that if such a gift existed and I knew about
it at the time, it would not have impacted our decision (to
cut mens swimming)."
Athletic Director Bill Byrne did not return our calls.