Quick Takes: Congressman Challenges NCAA Tax Exemption, Ex-President Convicted of Embezzlement, Guilty Plea in Lab Firebombing, Student Teacher and U. Settle Lawsuit Over Classroom Prayer, Clackamas President on Leave

October 5, 2006
  • The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee has sent the National Collegiate Athletic Association a pointed eight-page letter asking the sports group to justify the tax-exempt status of big-time collegiate sports. The letter, from Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) to Myles Brand, the NCAA's president, is framed as part of the committee's broader examination of the nonprofit sector, which, like a parallel review in the Senate Finance Committee, has touched on the pay and oversight of college presidents, among other things. Thomas's letter asks 25 questions related to the association's finances and educational mission, on such topics as coaches' compensation and the alleged lack of rigor of many athletes' academic programs, and demands extensive information from NCAA officials. And its underlying theme is summed up in such pointed statements as this one, posed as as question: "How does playing major college football or men's basketball in a highly commercialized, profit-seeking, entertainment environment further the educational purpose of your member institutions?" Thomas's letter seeks a reply by October 30.
  • Starkey Morgan, the former president of Holmes Community College, in Mississippi, was convicted Wednesday of two counts of embezzlement related to using college money to buy tires for his own use and having college employees do work at his house, The Clarion-Ledger reported. He was acquitted on two other accounts and the jury was divided on a fifth count and could not reach a verdict. Morgan was placed on probation for 10 years and ordered to pay $7,000 in restitution and court costs. His lawyer characterized the prosecution as "political in nature" and "pretty chintzy."
  • Jennifer Kolar, one of five people charged in a 2001 ecoterrorist firebombing of a University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a deal that will land her in prison for up to seven years, the Associated Press reported. A second woman was expected to enter a similar plea later in the day.
  • Southeastern Louisiana University and a local school district have settled a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a student teacher who says she was punished by university instructors and others for complaining about classroom prayers, the Associated Press reported.
  • Joe Johnson, the president of Clackamas Community College, went on leave Monday, amid reports that deans had asked him to step aside and following the departures of key administrators, The Oregonian reported. The college has been divided by Johnson's leadership.
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