Athletic department racks up debt
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2012 01:05
With people still reeling from the announcement of Martha Saunders stepping down as president of the University of Southern Mississippi, on Friday the Hattiesburg American reported that the Southern Miss athletic department is more than $1 million in debt.
Jeff Hammond, Southern Miss interim athletic director, told the newspaper that he and his staff are working to fix the situation by scheduling big football and basketball games to bring in more revenue.
“This university athletics department is going to deal with it not this year, but in the years ahead,” Hammond said. “It was due to a lack of accountability and probably a lack of creative thinking in ways to develop revenue, such as scheduling.”
Hammond told the Hattiesburg American the debt was discovered through an internal audit of the athletic department earlier this year.
Hammond took the interim athletic director job in January after Richard Giannini retired in December, and Giannini reportedly defended himself in reference to the mismanagement and debt.
“Every year, the NCAA requires us to be audited,” Giannini said. “In 13 years, there were no irregularities that were ever discovered. We always had a clean bill of health. If they think someone out there found issues, they can take them down to the grand jury and let the public know. I stand by my record.”
Giannini added that the athletic department saw success under him on and off the playing fields. The football team had more wins than any team in school history, and he said they “changed the face of the athletic facilities.”
Hammond told the Hattiesburg American the most important thing in this time of financial distress is to stay united.
“We’ve got to come together,” Hammond said. “We’ve all got to look in the mirror. It’s time to stand shoulder to shoulder, back to back. We have to come together unified. I’m the first one to look in the mirror.”