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Audit: USF Athletic Overpayments, Screening Questions

Former USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard received $415,000 more in severance pay from USF than the law allowed, according to FL's Auditor General.

Some business practices at the University of South Florida have raised a red flag about athletic department contracts, according to the Florida Auditor General.

A report from the office of Auditor General Sherrill Norman reviewed four different areas at USF and reported five separate findings of concern.

Questions were raised about the severance packages given to ex-athletic director Doug Woolard and former assistant football coach Paul Wulff.

The audit found that their contracts gave them severance pay in excess of 20 weeks - which is against state law. The report says USF paid $626,000 more than what the law allows: Woolard received $415,000, while Wulff received $211,000.

Current AD Mark Harlan, football coach Willie Taggart, men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua and women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez all have similar clauses in their contracts.

In a statement, USF officials said they disagree with the finding and are not planning to amend those contracts at this time. They added that the payments came from Athletic Department revenue and not state funds.

The audit also found that the university failed to conduct proper background screenings for 117 employees who had access to cash or personal information about students, faculty and staff. University officials blamed understaffing in Human Resources for the problem.

In addition, a number of people who had direct contact with people under 18 attending USF's preschool and academic and sports camps did not have the proper background screenings. USF indicated they would conduct such exams in the future.

Other findings raised concerns about security controls over university data and IT systems, as well as about USF classifying students from Latin America and Caribbean countries as Florida residents when it comes to scholarships and student fees.

While the state allows universities to do so when the students receive state or federal scholarships, USF was also including students who received non-qualifying scholarships. The audit said USF collected almost $3 million less in student fees than it should have.

University officials replied that since the scholarships came from a fund that includes state funds and student fees, they consider them state scholarships. USF has asked the Florida Board of Governors for advice on the matter.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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