Board of Regents backs Adams

ATLANTA - The state Board of Regents backed University of Georgia President Michael Adams, discredited a report that accuses Adams of misusing funds and various other improprieties, and urged the University community to "close this chapter and move forward."

The report done by auditing firm Deloitte & Touche was commissioned on July 1 by the UGA Foundation, a fund-raising organization that provides monies to the University and the President. The 47-page study, backed with extensive documentation, portrays Michael Adams as a leader who made decisions without proper approval, distorted the truth and used University money for personal reasons.

The claims did not hold sway with the Board of Regents, who released the report to the public at a meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The Board also released a statement, a memo from system Chancellor Thomas Meredith, a detailed factual response from the management staff at the University of Georgia and a personal response to each item from Adams.

"President Adams has the full support of the Board of Regents. It is imperative at this juncture for all of those who support this great university to now reunite their efforts to push UGA into an even more prominent position nationally," Board of Regents chairman Frank Harris said in a brief statement Wednesday afternoon.

Adams' 14-page response, plus extended documentation, acknowledged some mistakes during his seven-year tenure, but said the report was full of mischaracterization and half-truths.

"When I completed a reading of the report, I must say I hardly knew the 'Dr. Adams' the report seemed to describe," Adams wrote in his response addressed to Meredith.

The Board of Regents questioned the report as well, claiming in a written statement that it "expresses extreme disappointment in the report from Deloitte & Touche and is deeply distressed (report) has received such attention from the Foundation."

The Board accuses the report of having "numerous significant factual errors," "selective use of information," "innuendos," and "hearsay." The Board wrote that it finds Adams' report and the UGA senior management team's report "far more credible" than the Deloitte & Touche report.

The Board also questioned the timing and reason for the report, claiming that it was commissioned in response to Adams' decision not to extend the contract of Georgia athletics director Vince Dooley, who has served at the school for 40 years.

"Given the way the report was initiated and the timing, the Regents find it impossible to divorce this action from the personnel decision made by President Adams regarding Athletics Director Vince Dooley," the Board wrote. "Although some contend this is not the case, the facts speak for themselves."

Adams' decision not to extend Dooleys contract beyond its June 30, 2004 expiration has sparked an uproar among UGA supporters. During the summer, Dooley loyalists presented a large petition to the Board of Regents asking for Adams' removal.

The Deloitte & Touche report does not address the Dooley issue, but it does criticize Adams on a number of other issues.

The report accuses Adams of using UGA Foundation money for personal expenses, including for a $2,255 chartered flight to the funeral of a former Centre College President and a $10,000 law school reception to honor 2002 graduates, including Adams' son, David. Adams repaid the body for the law school reception.

"Based on our interviews, it appears a mistaken belief among some members of the Foundation Board of Trustees, Dr. Adams and his staff, that certain funds, which were endowed and restricted for Dr. Adams' discretionary use are simply Dr. Adams funds to do with as he pleases," the report states.

The reports most critical section deals with Adams' courtship with Ohio State University in 2002. Adams claims he was offered a package of nearly $850,000 to become president at Ohio State, one of his alma maters. The report claims he inflated the amount of the offer to garner a bigger financial package from Georgia.

"These facts could raise concern to the Foundation as to whether Dr. Adams provided false information to the Foundation with the intent of inflating his market value in order to obtain a better offer from UGA," the report states.

The report also criticizes Adams for eschewing proper approval for a stipend for his wife Mary, a $250,000 agreement with former football coach Jim Donnan, a $30,000 honorarium for Hank Huckaby, an $895,000 land purchase in Costa Rica and the hiring of an architect for the school's alumni center.

Wednesday's activities put the Board of Regents and the UGA Foundation, which forwarded the report to the Board, at odds. Several Foundation members have said they will continue to pursue Adams' removal and would consider cutting the Foundations contribution, currently at just less than 50 percent, to Adams' compensation.

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