Alabama State Suspends Presidential Search, Breaks Relationship with Steve Harvey

Alabama State University officials this week announced that the institution does not have enough money to continue a full and customary search for a new president. The announcement comes days after board officials confirmed that the school had terminated its relationship with entertainer Steve Harvey, which last year cultivated business venture around the university’s annual homecoming celebration.

Members of the ASU Board of Trustees met last week to formally disband the presidential search committee. The Montgomery Advertiser reported on the deliberations, in which some members endorsed an extended period of interim service for provost Leon Wilson, since the board terminated the contract of former president Gwendolyn Boyd in November.

“Take your time and get it right,” (ASU Trustee and Finance Committee Chair Herbert) Young said. “Dr. Wilson can do a great job for two or three years and get it right.”

The decision comes just days after the board was scrutinized over details concerning the termination of its Turkey Day Classic events agreement with Harvey and his Montgomery-based business partner Greg Calhoun. According to the Alabama Political Reporter, the board severed ties with Harvey on the same day it fired Dr. Boyd, and accused the duo of withholding funds from the university, which the sides agreed to share through promotion and support of homecoming concerts and other events.

In an interview with APR, Montgomery businessman Greg Calhoun, who partners with Harvey in an investment company named HarCal, said ASU has collected more than $800,000 in revenue from ticket sales for the 2016 TDC and enjoyed “six days of high-level entertainment.”

“This doesn’t make sense if you think about it: How can you rob a broke man?” Calhoun asked. “ASU went from being so broke they couldn’t afford a concert and got duped by a promoter on a Lil Wayne concert in 2015 to now, in 2016, having six days of concerts and a great crowd at the game.”

“To come back on Steve Harvey and act like he’s trying to pull something – it makes no sense. He brought a million dollars into this town of his own money, and he knew he wouldn’t make much, if anything. It was about helping those students and that school.”

ASU officials told the Advertiser that the school was to receive more than $170,000 from the events, but Calhoun says that HarCal is owed money from school for up-front costs associated with facility rental and security, among other expenses.

Alabama State officials released a statement related to coverage of the school’s severed ties with HarCal.

“Alabama State University looked forward to a beneficial partnership with HarCal. This partnership was established to allow the University to continue a large-scale celebration for Turkey Day Classic (TDC) and ASU Homecoming, which could be enjoyed by the University family and the area community. More importantly, this relationship would allow ASU leadership to focus its attention and available resources on academic enterprises.

It is not ASU’s desire to engage in daily discourse around the HarCal contract. However, we do owe it to the ASU family and to the public to refute inaccurate statements that have been made about Alabama State University.

The University is owed, at a minimum, $170,000 which is the guarantee outlined in the contact.

The Alabama State University administration has yet to obtain any financial statements, either audited or unofficial, from HarCal representatives, even though the contract states that they are to be made available by both parties.

These financial statements from HarCal would reveal if the University is owed any money above the guarantee.

Alabama State University has complied and submitted a financial report for Turkey Day Classic, which was prepared by Warren Averett/CPA’s and Advisors.

This report titled: “Agreed Upon Procedures 2016” (a.k.a. ASU’s Turkey Day Classic Profit-Loss Statement) was provided to HarCal’s Gregory Calhoun on February 22, via certified mail and electronic email. This same document was provided to the legal counsel representing HarCal, which is Attorney Brandon Williams – on that same date.

As of this date, the University has not received any financial statements from HarCal.

ASU did submit a $67,000 invoice for facility use and related charges to HarCal.

The contract with HarCal did not provide for discounted or in-kind use of facilities for events. Moreover, former University President, Gwendolyn Boyd, stated during the ASU Board of Trustees meeting on November 14, 2016 that “We are charging them as if they were an outside group. We’re giving them employees’ names and how much they are spending. We are charging them the standard rate for using the Acadome.”

The Southwestern Athletic Conference has an established contract with ESPN to televise conference games. One such game for the conference is the Turkey Day Classic. On multiple occasions, Alabama State University officials petitioned the conference to release the University from the agreement for the 2016 Turkey Day Classic. ESPN rejected each request made by the conference on behalf of ASU. While the University could have benefited from a deal with NBC/Universal and the exposure of Family Feud, the University was obligated to fulfill the existing contract with ESPN. HarCal officials were aware of the contractual obligation.

University officials are not aware of any discussion to move the Magic City Classic football game from its current management to HarCal; as a contract for this has not been provided for, nor executed. This is also not a decision that could be made by ASU alone. The Magic City Classic is a mutually agreed upon event between Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University.

The University has attempted on multiple occasions to establish a meeting with HarCal representatives to review the financial details from the 2016 Turkey Day Classic.

The University wants to review and finalize all outstanding items for TDC-2016, per the terms of the agreement,” said Dr. Leon C. Wilson, Interim-President, Alabama State University.

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