SJSU Media Relations Submits List of 22 Corrections to Spartan Daily’s May 15, 2019 Published Stories

Editor’s Note: The following message was sent to the Spartan Daily on June 13.

Spartan Daily published a series of stories in its May 15, 2019 special edition that contained 22 inaccuracies ranging from allegations of mishandled Spartan Foundation funds and endowments to mismanagement of donor money. On June 13, SJSU Media Relations formally submitted a list of inaccuracies to Spartan Daily with a request to provide readers an accurate account of information by making corrections on its online and print editions. This page provides a full summary of the list submitted to the student newspaper with the inaccuracies highlighted in blue for each statement.

Spartan Daily “Millions Misused” article (05/15/19, print publication, page one)

Statement

Less than 5% of Spartan Foundation money intended for athletic scholarships was distributed to San Jose State athletes from 2013-2016 according to sources and confirmed by document reviewed by the Spartan Daily

Correction

Every donation designated by the donor for athletics scholarships was used for that purpose.


Statement

The Spartan Foundation was marketed to donors on SJSU athletics’ website as a fund that provides athletic scholarships, and was managed as part of the Tower Foundation since 2014.

Correction

Spartan Foundation (SF) is a separate 501(c)3. SF is not managed by Tower Foundation. It deposited its donations into accounts at the Tower Foundation.


Statement

The Spartan Foundation was marketed to donors on SJSU athletics’ website as a fund that provides athletic scholarships, and was managed as part of the Tower Foundation since 2014.

Correction

Bylaws of Spartan Foundation, Inc. (revised, June 20, 2012) articulate the primary purpose of the Spartan Foundation as described below. Fundraising for scholarships was not the only or sole purpose.

BYLAWS OF SPARTAN FOUNDATION, INC. (source document)

ARTICLE II FOUNDATION PURPOSE

Section 1. THE PRIMARY PURPOSE. The primary purpose of the Spartan Foundation is to raise funds to support nearly 450 student-athletes annually for the following;
A. Scholarships for all varsity sports.
B. Assist with the operating budgets and Sports Improvement Funds (coaches’ salaries, travel, equipment, recruiting) for the varsity teams.
C. Building, renovating and maintaining facilities for these teams.
D. Student-Athletes Academic Center and provide support to our academic staff.


Statement

“The Spartan Foundation is the fundraising arm of the San Jose State University Athletics Department,” the website previously stated. “As its primary objective, the Spartan Foundation provides scholarship support for all of San Jose State’s NCAA Division I athletic teams.”

Correction

Primary objective does not equal sole objective.

Bylaws of Spartan Foundation, Inc. (revised, June 20, 2012) articulate the primary purpose of the Spartan Foundation as described below. Fundraising for scholarships was not the only or sole purpose.

BYLAWS OF SPARTAN FOUNDATION, INC. (source document)

ARTICLE II FOUNDATION PURPOSE

Section 1. THE PRIMARY PURPOSE. The primary purpose of the Spartan Foundation is to raise funds to support nearly 450 student-athletes annually for the following;
A. Scholarships for all varsity sports.
B. Assist with the operating budgets and Sports Improvement Funds (coaches’ salaries, travel, equipment, recruiting) for the varsity teams.
C. Building, renovating and maintaining facilities for these teams.
D. Student-Athletes Academic Center and provide support to our academic staff.


Statement

$4.5 million was not distributed per year for athletic scholarships through the foundation fund, according to Spartan Foundation account details.

Correction

As Spartan Foundation fundraising was inadequate to fund all scholarships, SJSU Athletics used other sources of revenue, beyond Spartan Foundation donations, to fully fund all scholarships. Most importantly, all student-athletes who were selected to receive scholarships received them.

Specifically, from 2013 – 2016, SJSU Athletics provided over $25M in student-athlete scholarship aid through multiple revenue sources such as but not limited to sponsorship agreements, television contracts, game guarantees, and ticket sales.

The following data of athletically-related student aid is sourced from EADA (Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act) as SJSU Athletics submits required information to the Department of Education and reported to the NCAA.

Source: EADA (Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act)

Department of Education site:
Survey Year | Athletically-Related Student Aid
2013 | $5,167,667
2014 | $5,733,710
2015 | $6,813,951
2016 | $7,604,545
Total | $25,319,873


Spartan Daily “Demystiying endowments and donations to Tower Foundation” article (05/15/19, print publication, page two)

Statement

Endowment #5. After three years of accruing interest, the revenue from the principal investment is sent from the Tower Foundation to the intended area of use.

Correction

A distribution from the endowment is made every spring based on the trailing three-year average market value of the fund. Distributions from scholarship endowments are directed to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office; distributions from other endowments are retained in separate accounts at the Tower Foundation. Distributions are not sent to any department other than Financial Aid.


Statement

Donation #2. A donor contract is signed, including the agreed upon amount and where the money will be going. There is no minimum for single-time or recurring donations given.

Correction

Donation #2. Donor contracts are not required for non-endowed donations unless the purpose of the gift is complicated or involves naming a facility or program.


Spartan Daily “What actually happened” (5/15/19, printed version, page three)

Statement

#2. Donors sign a contract, including the agreed upon amount and where the money will be going. There is no minimum amount for single-time or recurring donations.

Correction

#2. Donor contracts are not required for non-endowed donations unless the purpose of the gift is complex or involves naming a facility or program.


Statement

#3. The money should be processed through the Tower Foundation, and then distributed to the area of use based on the donors’ original intent. Donations are given out the same year as donated unless specified in the donor contract.

Correction

#3. The money should be processed through the Tower Foundation, where it is available for the purpose specified for the donor. Donations are not given out in the same year as they are on deposit in a Tower account for the area (college/division/department/program) designated by the donor to utilize for the intended purpose depending when the funds are needed. It could be next month or even the following year – as it depends upon variables such as donation amount, timing of the gift, and other funds available for the area’s needs.


Spartan Daily “San Jose State’s commitment. Donor Bill of Rights” (5/15/19, printed version, page three)

Statement

The Donor Bill of Rights is an agreed upon list of rights and regulations for donors and San Jose State respectively.

Correction

The Donor Bill of Rights is an agreed upon list of donor rights considered best practices for charitable organizations. San Jose State and the Tower Foundation subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights.


Spartan Daily “Timeline” (printed version, page four and five)

Statement

According to Spartan Foundation documents reviewed by the Spartan Daily, the foundation had more than $4.5 million in total revenue that year and $0 was transferred to athletic scholarships..

Correction

Of the $4.5 million of revenue, almost $3.3 million was a transfer of Spartan Foundation balances from SJSU to the Tower Foundation.


Statement

The Tower Foundation sets up a separate branch strictly for athletic donations, hiring Josh Thiel to be the university’s first-ever deputy athletics director for advancement.

Correction

University Advancement sets up a separate branch strictly for athletic donations, hiring Josh Thiel to be the university’s first-ever deputy athletics director for advancement. However, prior to the establishment of Athletics Advancement, different individuals in Athletics were involved with fundraising.


Spartan Daily “Address confusion leads to incorrect deposits of donor money” (05/15/19, printed version, page eight)

Statement

The university then announced in 2014 that the Spartan Foundation account was moved out of athletics and into the Tower Foundation, according to the Spartan Athletics website.

Correction

In 2013, Athletics opened accounts for the Spartan Foundation with the Tower Foundation, which it subsequently used for depositing donations.


Statement

In 2016, four individuals received more than $150,000 in compensation from the Tower Foundation and “related organizations,” including Faas, Bleymaier, Andy Feinstein, the provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Coleetta McElroy, the president of the SJSU Alumni Association

Correction

As an authorized auxiliary of SJSU, Tower and SJSU are related entities. The IRS requires disclosure of board directors’ compensation from related entities. In 2016, the Tower Foundation’s 990 listed 26 individuals who were affiliated with Tower Foundation. Eight individuals, not four as listed in the article, were from related entities. Other than Bleymaier, none of the eight individuals were paid by the Tower Foundation.


Spartan Daily “Endowments mishandled” (05/15/19, printed version, page eight)

Statement

“Endowments held by each school are not even all distributed,” one source said.

Correction

Endowment distributions are made annually unless the donor requests distributions only be made after a certain date.


Statement

“There are cases where endowments have not been spent with donor intent.”

Correction

In the rare instances that endowment spending isn’t aligned with the donor’s intention for the funds, department personnel are advised what permitted uses are.


Statement

The sources said they saw Tower Foundation money distributed to individual colleges, but the deans spent the money against donors’ intent. When the donors came back to ask where the money went, the Tower Foundation realized the mistakes made by individual colleges.

Correction

This broad statement falsely implies all distributions were mishandled by the colleges. In the rare instances that spending is outside the donor’s intent, Tower Foundation requests the expenditure be paid from another account. At times, Tower has sought donor permission for exceptions.


Statement

Student scholarships sit in the Tower Foundation because sometimes the deans have a hard time reading the Tower Foundation quarterly report or the deans didn’t know the scholarship money existed, sources said.

Correction

Within 90 days of a new dean or vice president starting, Tower Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer meets with each of them and reviews every single endowment and current use account in their college, answering questions and providing copies of source documents they need. Donations for student scholarships were transferred to the Financial Aid and Scholarship office two years ago after a Chancellor’s Office audit recommended that scholarships be held in a single location.


Statement

The sources also said that when development officers in charge of donor accounts leave their job, their endowment accounts were forgotten about.

Correction

Endowment account holders (whether they be the dean, department chair or program director) receive monthly reports showing endowment distribution balances and spending. The focus of development officers is on cultivating major gifts rather than accounting for funds in their colleges. Tower Foundation has a senior accountant whose focus is the endowment; this individual not only answers questions, but also alerts the dean or department when an endowment isn’t being used.


Statement

Kuehn was hired in December of 2016, and since then, Tower Foundation employees said an accounting system in the Tower Foundation has been instituted to ensure donor money is properly logged and going exactly where it is intended.

Correction

The endowment system referred to as an accounting system was brought online in 2015 by Kuehn’s predecessor. The endowment system streamlined many processes, but prior to it there were internal controls which were designed to ensure donor funds were appropriately used. Tower Foundation has an annual financial audit by an accounting firm approved by the campus and the Chancellor’s Office. There have been no findings nor deficiencies identified by the auditors. The Tower Foundation also has a rigorous triennial Chancellor’s Office audit. There have been no endowment findings or deficiencies identified by the Chancellor’s Office auditors.


Spartan Daily “Tower reforms and resignation” (05/15/19, printed version, page eight)

Statement

In 2018, the Tower Foundation set up a separate branch strictly for athletic donations, hiring Josh Thiel to be the university’s first-ever deputy athletics director for athletics advanement.

Correction

University Advancement sets up a separate branch strictly for athletic donations, hiring Josh Thiel to be the university’s first-ever deputy athletics director for advancement. However, prior to the establishment of Athletics Advancement, different individuals in Athletics were involved with fundraising.


Statement

Then, after being called the Spartan Foundation since 1958, the Spartan Foundation was renamed the Spartan Athletics Fund in August of 2018.

Correction

The Spartan Foundation wasn’t renamed. The annual fundraising Spartan Foundation used to do was taken over by Athletics Advancement. The annual fund was named Spartan Athletics Fund.


Statement

President Papazian announced the resignation of Paul Lanning, who was the CEO of the Tower Foundation

Correction

Paul Lanning was VP for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation


Spartan Daily “Budget reports disguise fund” (05/15/19, print publication, page eight)

Statement

The Spartan Foundation reported in its 2014 990 EZ tax filings that it had received $0 in gifts, grants, contributions and membership fees. However, according to the documents reviewed by the Spartan Daily, almost $1.5 million was collected that year.

Correction

Spartan Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, utilized its accounts at the Tower Foundation for depositing funds raised starting in 2013. As a result, the Spartan Foundation was no longer the legal recipient and therefore its 990 EZ tax form stated $0 received in gifts, grants, contributions and membership fees.


 

Read past related media statements and university communications regarding the Spartan Foundation.

 

Spartan Daily students watch Jonathan Stypula demonstrating Tackable on iPhone.

Spartan Daily Tests New iPhone App, Transforming Photojournalism

SJSU student newspaper editors are testing a new iPhone application created by fellow Spartans that could transform the way we collect and share news images. In a nutshell, it’s all about crowd sourcing.

“We’re really excited to try this app out as an experiment,” said Salman Haqqi, Spartan Daily executive editor. “The integration of mobile apps is the future of journalism in the coming years. We’re thrilled to be at the forefront of emerging technologies that give our readers a chance to be part of what we do at the Spartan Daily.”

Here’s how it works: Spartan Daily uses the app, Tackable, to invite users to take photos of an event. People attend the event, take photos and upload the pics to a site for all to see. Editors review the photos, select the best ones, and print them in the paper.

The app combines the most popular features of social networking and social gaming sites. People can make comments, receive points, compete for spots on the leader board, and unlock an “entourage” for tips and encouragement.

Tackable’s co-founders have big ambitions. Marketing major Jonathan Stypula and recent journalism graduate Luke Stangel are also working with the Bay Area News Group’s 20 papers including the San Jose Mercury News.

“We believe this is an application that will revolutionize news and has the potential to change the world,” said Stypula. “Breaking news won’t be able to hide.”

Read more in about Tackable and the San Jose Mercury News on Poynter.org.

Interested Tackable for the Spartan Daily? Download the app, and give it a whirl. Then send your comments to Tackable at play@tackable.com.

From Soldier to Student: SJSU Combat Vets Share Their Stories

By Pat Harris, Media Relations Director
Soldiers stand in front of tents with cloud of smoke in background.

Soldiers stand in front of tents with cloud of smoke in background.

When the Spartan Daily’s Aimee McLendon set out to write about SJSU students who are combat veterans, she encountered resistance. People she contacted were concerned their comments would be used to portray them in a bad light, or taken out of context. A veteran herself, McLendon proved to be a careful listener and writer. Continue reading