MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A state audit notes that Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen had a conflict of interest while renegotiating former basketball coach Josh Pastner’s contract in 2013 because they had the same agent at the time.
The audit also showed Pastner’s updated contract was not submitted to the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval, as was required for contracts exceeding $100,000.
The Board of Regents audit found no evidence of Bowen receiving a benefit from the agent in exchange for giving Pastner a raise. The audit also said a review of university records “did not reveal inappropriate sharing of information” between Bowen and the agent.
The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal first reported the audit’s findings.
Pastner received a raise from $1.7 million to $2.65 million after Memphis went 31-5 and won an NCAA Tournament game in 2013.
Under the terms of that raise and extension, Memphis would have owed Pastner $10.6 million if it had fired him after the Tigers went 19-15 in 2015-16 and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year.
Pastner left on his own after the 2015-16 season to take over Georgia Tech’s program.
“Current and former employees stated that discussions occurred between various parties regarding the athletic director’s potential conflict of interest before any negotiations with the head coach were initiated,” the Board of Regents stated in its report. “However, the university staff aware of the conflict did not follow the policies to refer the matter to the university’s conflict of interest review committee or take effective steps to manage, reduce or eliminate the potential conflict should negotiations for the head coach became necessary.”
In its report, the Board of Regents recommended that university officials should ensure all employees are aware of the school’s conflict-of-interest policies, implement a standard process for contract negotiations with highly paid employees to assure the school’s interests are protected and continue monitoring the university’s athletic operations through oversight and internal audits.
Memphis released a statement saying it cooperated “in full” with the investigation and has taken steps to ensure state and university policies are followed. Those steps include the use of a conflict-of-interest review committee.
School officials said the audit’s findings were consistent with those from an internal review.
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