State audit finds issues in SDSU athletics

In addition to improper classification of assistant coaches, the audit found growth in compensation of management personnel across the 23 CSU campuses had “significantly outpaced that of other types of employees."

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by Adriana Millar, Assistant News Editor

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A California state audit report released Thursday, April 20, revealed San Diego State improperly reclassified eight assistant coaches as management personnel, “solely to increase pay,” according to the report.

The audit reviewed the level of growth in the number of California State University management personnel, oversight and accountability of CSU’s budget and increases in the compensation of CSU executives.

SDSU has seen an increase of 24 percent of full-time management positions since 2007.

The three areas of highest growth were Student Services with 18 new hires, university advancement with 12 new hires and athletics with 10 new hires.

A memo sent in 2011 from the associate athletic director of business administration stated that new assistant football coaches would be hired as management personnel instead of faculty. The new assistant coaches would receive starting salaries of $150,000 to remain competitive compared to coaching salaries across the country.

SDSU granted three existing assistant coaches raises averaging 33 percent at a total annual cost of more than $111,000, according to the report.

Since the 2011 memo, SDSU has misclassified eight assistant coaches as management personnel.

The California Faculty Association bargaining agreement requires the CSU to classify coaches as faculty unless they supervise two or more full‑time employees. The state audit report found that SDSU’s assistant coaches do not supervise other individuals in the faculty bargaining unit.

SDSU Interim Chief Communications Officer Gina Jacobs said the management personnel classification was justified based on the market-rate salary requirements and the programmatic responsibilities necessary to lead large, competitive athletic programs in an email on April 21.

However, the report also notes that it is not the first to question the classification of assistant coaches at SDSU.

“In the margin of the associate athletic director’s 2011 memo, we observed a handwritten note from an unidentified individual asking ‘why?’ with an underline below the narrative describing the reclassification,” the report states.

Jacobs noted that the audit recommendation about the classification of assistant coaches advises the CSU to work with relevant stakeholders to come to an agreement on the appropriate categorization of assistant coaches.

“SDSU will work with the CSU to ensure system wide policy supports the integrity and continued success of our athletics programs,” Jacobs said.

CSU Manager of Public Affairs Elizabeth Chapin said the CSU is committed to being responsible fiscal stewards of public funds.

“The university has many controls in place to ensure fiscal accountability and we will work with the State Auditor to ensure that audit recommendations are implemented in a timely manner,” she said in an email on April 21. “The Chancellor’s Office and campuses will comply with the recommendations, as appropriate, and provide guidance to campuses regarding the audit recommendations.”

In addition to revealing SDSU’s improper classification of assistant coaches, the audit found growth in the number and compensation of management personnel across the 23 CSU campuses had “significantly outpaced that of other types of employees, including non-faculty support staff.”

The report said the campuses they visited frequently could not adequately justify the growth in the number of new management personnel.  

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