The University of Wisconsin Athletic Board chair welcomed the ad hoc committee that met for the first time Wednesday to investigate recent allegations of iniquity in the board’s actions and adamantly defended its actions and procedures.
“I welcome this inquiry because it will set the record straight,” Athletic Board Chair Walter Dickey said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.
The committee has been charged with investigating whether the board’s practices and actions in recent years have been consistent with faculty policies and procedures, and whether they fall in line with specific Wisconsin state statutes.
Dickey said he believes the board has in fact done so during his time as chair.
Current Athletic Board member Ken Goldstein also welcomed the committee’s investigation.
There are three main allegations being made against the board that motivated the formation of the ad hoc committee: the proper procedures were not followed in hiring current head football coach Bret Bielema; the Athletic Board had no consultative role in creating the Big Ten Network; and board members have reported being actively intimidated and prevented from voicing their opinions.
In response to the allegation that coach Bielema was hired illegally, Dickey said while he was not chair when the decision was made, it was his understanding that former Chancellor John Wiley incorrectly advised the Athletic Department how to proceed in hiring the new coach.
“It is my understanding that [Wiley] made a specific agreement that [coach Alvarez] would have the right to choose the next football coach,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein added it was the decision of the boss of the athletic director, the chancellor, and that in a fiduciary sense, legal responsibility for the decision lies with him and the UW System Board of Regents.
In response to the second allegation, Goldstein said the Athletic Department rightfully had no role in its creation, saying it was a decision made by the chancellors and presidents of the 11 Big Ten institutions.
Further, Dickey said the university was kept informed about the development of the deal, and this fact has been acknowledged in writing by the chair of the university committee.
Both Dickey and Goldstein said they feel the allegations that board members were actively intimidated into silence are ungrounded.
Both explained they have never heard a formal complaint of this nature raised in a meeting and do not believe such intimidation has taken place.
“As chair, I did not have anyone say that they did not get heard on the board,” Dickey said. “That doesn’t mean some people were unable to convince the board to adopt their views. It is common for people to assert they are not being listened to, when in fact, their real problem is that they are unable to convince others to agree with them.”
Goldstein said he personally voices his opinion when and where he wants and definitely feels he has influenced decisions on the board.