The outgoing chief spokesman of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville on Friday accused school officials of intentionally destroying documents about the finances of a fundraising division that was cited by legislative auditors for poor money management.
Speaking to a legislative panel reviewing an audit of the school's Advancement Division, John Diamond told lawmakers that Chancellor David Gearhart and other officials ordered the destruction of documents relevant to the audit at a meeting Diamond attended in January with Advancement Division officials.
The audit, which was released Tuesday, said the division ended the 2012 fiscal year with a $4.19 million deficit and the previous fiscal year with a $2.14 million deficit. It also said the division increased spending 67 percent in a four-year period without an accompanying increase in revenue.
Gearhart, who sat next to Diamond as he testified, vigorously denied the outgoing spokesman's claims and said they were coming from a disgruntled former employee.
The university fired Diamond last month, and his final day is Sept. 20. The school has said that Diamond was fired for insubordination after a confrontation with his direct supervisor, but Diamond has claimed he was dismissed because of disagreements over the school's openness and accountability to the public.
Diamond's statements prompted the legislative panel to keep open its investigation of the university's Advancement Division, and a co-chairman of the panel said more hearings may be held to look into the claims.
"Given the magnitude of what Mr. Diamond was saying, I think it warrants at least keeping the door open to where we can get to the bottom of this," Rep. Kim Hammer, the audit panel's co-chairman told reporters after the hearing.
Gearhart said he takes responsibility for the problems raised in the audit, but said the report didn't find any criminal wrongdoing or fraud by the university. He also said the report didn't reflect problems with the university's finances, which he said were sound.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.