I guess the SWAC just wouldn’t be the SWAC if there weren’t a good scandal to come up every 7 to 8 years or so.
If you’ve been following the SWAC for a while, you probably remember Rudy-gate, the SWAC scandal of 2001 where former SWAC Commissioner Rudy Washington was reportedly fired for overpaying himself $78,750 in salary.
Of course, lawsuits were filed, and fingers were pointed, but Rudy even pointed a finger at us:
The suit states that “Washington’s termination is nothing more than a political power play based on misleading and overstated charges.” The suit also lists rumors circulated about Washington, some on The SWAC Page Internet Message Board (www.swacpage.com), an independent website not run by the conference, which accuse Washington of stealing $1.5 million and labeled him “a crook, thief, con artist and scammer.”
“Those rumors are of such specificity and such direct accusations of theft that they almost have to come from the SWAC, or somebody who knows about this audit report,” Falkenberry said in the Birmingham News story.
We fast forward to our new year of 2009, where it appears that a new scandal is brewing. This time it involves SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp.
Yesterday, I reported on the message board that Duer fired three people on his staff. They were Will Bright (Dir. of Media Relations), Jennifer Huggins (Asst. Commissioner of Championships), and Deborah Vaughn (Dir. of Finance & Accounting).
From what I understand, there was no severance pay. Not even a reason was given as to why they were being fired. Just an envelope that was handed to them informing them their employment with the SWAC had been terminated.
What raises an eyebrow about these firings is twofold and could possibly result in a double scandal of sorts. For the sake of clarity, we will label each scandal as Duer-gate (DG1) and Duer-gate (DG2).
Duer-gate1 involves accusations of Duer literally modifying the voting ballots that resulted in a nominee not being inducted with the class of 2008 to the SWAC Hall of Fame. What is even more disturbing is the reasoning for Duer’s actions, which according to my sources, was simply because he didn’t like the person.
The same was echoed by what appears to be a well-informed newcomer to the TSPN message board. The user sums up DG1 in just two posts.
The word from a fly on the wall is there was something fishy about the SWAC Hall of Fame selections this year and the Commish fired everyone he “thought” might have been responsible for letting it out
seems like Duer did not like one of the people nominated (by the committee) for the SWAC HOF and he changed (altered) the ballot of several voters so that person would not have the 60% votes to keep the person from being named to the HOF
Apparently, the SWAC Council of Presidents is aware of DG1. I’m told that after learning about Duer’s actions, James Frank (the former SWAC commissioner before Rudy Washington) was asked by the SCP to investigate the situation.
According to sources, the person who did not get inducted (because of Duer) was Alabama State Track Coach Horace Crump. Here is a quick bio I found on Crump from an ASU press release dated November 2007.
Track Head Coach Horace Crump has 38 years of coaching experience, 30 of which have been at Alabama State University. Crump has led the school to 11 SWAC Championships and has been selected SWAC Coach of the Year 11 times. In addition, he was elected president of the SWAC Track Coaches Association. An ASU alumnus, Crump was an accomplished athlete in college. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and has served as an assistant professor of HPER at ASU. Crump and his wife have three sons and one daughter.
Let’s see…30 years…11 SWAC titles…that’s a success rate of 36%. I’d say that’s worthy of being a SWAC Hall of Famer. Apparently, those who voted thought so as well.
If this is true (and I have no reason to believe it isn’t), it is a gross abuse of power and privilege – if such terms are applicable to the position of SWAC commissioner these days.
Duer-gate2 (which I will explain in greater detail in the next 24-48 hours) is a scandal that is still in formation and could potentially have legal implications. Not only does it involve the latest round of firings by Sharp, but involves the firings of other former SWAC staff members over the past 14 months. If the legal implications hold, the SWAC could face heavy financial penalties.
And yes…I tried contacting the SWAC office and left a message asking for a statement, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I haven’t heard back from them yet.