SAN DIEGO — On a day when Mary Alice Hill was permanently relieved of any position with San Diego State University, the financial problems which she allegedly insisted existed and which led to her original firing as the university's athletic director were apparently dismissed by the results of an audit ordered by SDSU President Thomas Day.
In a press conference at the university Thursday afternoon, Day said the audit of the university's athletic department and of cash activities for the fund-raising Aztec Athletic Foundation for the fiscal year 1984/85 indicated no evidence to support allegations that there was improper behavior on the part of employees in those departments.
The audit was ordered by Day after Hill fired three members of the athletic department and severed ties with Mike Urbano's Regions West marketing company on July 24. Hill said Day reinstated those employees hours later and the contract with Regions West was said not to be severed.
Day said Hill will receive three months pay through Nov. 8 and all her vacation days. Sally Roush, director of personnel services at SDSU, told Hill's attorney, J. Stacey Sullivan, that Hill has 69 vacation days.
"He (Day) finally saw the light," said Sullivan, who plans to meet with Hill today and hopes to know their next course of action by Monday. "I think we're coming to grips with the thing. We'll probably have to follow their internal procedure of reconsideration. I was told by William Knight (attorney for the California State University System) it would be 99% useless, but I can't rely on that."
Sullivan has been involved with the case since he was retained on the evening of Aug. 7, at which time Hill was still on a vacation ordered by Day. On Aug. 8, when Day fired Hill as athletic director, he reassigned her to be his assistant. At a meeting with Day on Tuesday, Hill and Sullivan expected the president to outline the duties of her new position. Instead, Day asked Hill to take a vacation through her termination date, which was Nov. 8.
After the meeting Tuesday, Hill and Sullivan sent Day a list of five proposals of things they believed Hill could do at the university.
On Wednesday, Day received a copy of the findings of the audit done by Ellene Anderson, an employee in the university's business and financial affairs department. Day said he sent Hill and Sullivan letters explaining why Hill was terminated. Sullivan said a letter was hand delivered to his office Thursday morning. Hill said she had not received the letter when she was contacted late Thursday afternoon.
"I think the reasons (for her termination) are quite explicit," Day said. "We have explored as much as we could. Reluctantly, I came to the conclusion that there were no assignments I'd have confidence in Mary Alice Hill carrying out for San Diego State University. It's a state of my mind. For different reasons, I no longer had that confidence. I had that confidence until four weeks ago, but a variety of things have gone on in the last four weeks."
One of them was the audit.
In his press release, Day said: "It has been most unfortunate for the individuals in the Athletics office that these and other allegations were given such widespread public and private currency. There is no evidence to support them (allegations), and these individuals stand blameless of any significant improprieties."
Day said the audit pointed out that various procedures can be improved, and Day has given instructions to SDSU Vice-President William Erickson (business and financial affairs) and acting Athletic Director Robert Rinehart to proceed with the changes.
Under the heading of principle findings, the audit concluded:
- "Three files supporting disbursements made during 1984/85 to the athletic department and AAF employees were removed from the athletic department and have not been returned by the former athletic director. "
Day said those are backup files and the original documents have been looked at. He said he asked Hill about the files, and Hill told him she did not have them. Hill said Day asked her about the Western Athletic Conference football schedules, the football contract file and the personnel file of Muriel Kulikowski, Hill's administrative assistant who is currently on vacation.
"He has all the documents I had," Hill said. "I had files at home. He said it was imperative I bring them in, and I did."
- "Copies of cancelled checks from a small number of donors remain outstanding."
Day said he knows of four or five checks of $25 donations that are outstanding, but that is it. When asked about allegations that a check of $10,000 was missing, Day said: "That's one of the allegations floating around that is false."
- "An athletic department employee signed the athletic director's name on three travel expense claims. An examination of the expenses claimed revealed no improprieties."
Said Day: "The athletic director was not available to sign them. Her name was written in, and it was improper."
Hill said she has no idea who signed her name. Sullivan said that at one of the meetings with Hill and Day, Day confirmed that the signature was by one of the people Hill had tried to fire.
"He said the signing of her name was improper," Sullivan said, "but it was not a big deal. I said, 'You have lost confidence in Mary, but have confidence in someone who forges signatures.' "
As for the allegation of improper use of phones, Hill said she made a comment to Day that "an awful lot of calls for short durations were being made around the country, and maybe he should check some of that."
Day had the records of the phone calls investigated. He said the calls were coming out of the sports information office and were going to newspapers and universities in the normal course of business and there was no wrongdoing.