An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has revealed at least $1,580 collected by the University of Tennessee – Knoxville Spirit Team was never deposited with the UTK Athletics’ Business Office.
The Spirit Team is comprised of Smokey handlers as well as cheer, dance, and mascot teams.
The money was collected by Spirit Team personnel in 2017 and 2018 for a one-day clinic and cheer tryouts.
“Investigators were advised that multiple personnel had access to the money collected, and sometimes individuals kept the money at their residences. Due to a lack of internal controls, investigators were unable to determine who was responsible for the missing money,” according to a press release.
“After investigators interviewed the Spirit Team Coordinator in June 2019, she claimed she found a packet containing $2,047 at her residence. The UTK Athletics’ Business Office acknowledged it received this money on August 6, 2019. Due to the Spirit Team’s missing and inadequate records, investigators could not determine whether the $1,580 of missing money was part of the $2,047 the Spirit Team Coordinator found in her residence.”
The results of this investigation have been communicated to the District Attorney General of the 6th Judicial District.
“Our investigators found numerous shortcomings in how the Spirit Team handled its money,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, in a press release.
“These deficiencies included a failure to issue receipts, poor record keeping, and a failure to promptly deposit money. I’m pleased to note that UTK has indicated it has corrected these problems.”
The UTK Spirit Team is a part of the university athletic department and represents the university at football games, home basketball and volleyball games, and at other athletic, campus, corporate, and community events.
All Spirit Team participants must tryout in person each year. The Spirit Team also hosts two one-day clinics to help candidates prepare for the tryout process. The clinics are open to high school junior and seniors and college students. The Spirit Team charged fees for tryouts, attendance at clinics and public appearances and those fees were collected by Spirit Team personnel. Appearance fees may be waived for a limited number of nonprofit and campus organization events.
Spirit Team personnel consist of a Spirit Team Coordinator, a graduate assistant, a dance coach, a cheer coach, volunteers, and work-study students.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “University of Tennessee Cheerleaders” by the University of Tennessee.