Details in contract unclear

Allegations from USF deputy athletic director Corey Johnson’s past still remain unclear. But did the university conduct a background check for any allegations?

Prior to hiring Johnson as the deputy athletic director , the university signed a contract with a consulting firm to help research candidates. But whether background checks were requested to Carr Sports Associates remains unknown among administrators.

Lee Roy Selmon, USF athletic director, said the university engaged in conversations with the firm and was not provided with any complaints from Johnson’s past.

In 1993 Johnson left as Colorado State University’s athletic director, after allegations of dishonesty and inappropriate behavior were filed against him.

“From what I understand, (the firm) did an examination, and they didn’t give any reason why we should not consider Mr. Johnson,” Selmon said Monday. “The examination did include discussions with Colorado State.”

Selmon said he cannot confirm that there are any present allegations of sexual harassment against Johnson and would not comment on his work performance at USF.

Representatives from other universities that have used Carr Sports Associates to research candidates said they requested that background checks be included in the contracts.

Tom Harris, associate vice president of external affairs for the University of Kentucky, said when his university hired a consulting firm, they asked that the firm perform background checks on final candidates for the university.

“Universities have access to conduct background checks themselves,” Harris said. “But we felt it was easier to have it done through the firm.”

Harris said the price UK paid for Carr Sports Associates was cost-efficient. He added, however, that consulting firms typically charge more money to perform checks on individuals including criminal, financial and academic information.

According to UK’s Web site, the university paid Carr Sports Associates $45,000 in May to perform a full search to select the institute’s new athletic director.

Michael Reich, USF’s media relation’s director, said USF paid the firm $15,000 to research candidates for the deputy athletic director’s position.

Harris said the cost to USF was a reasonable price to provide a qualified candidate for that position. He said, however, that the price depends on what the contract included after agreement.

Reich said that the $15,000 was the total cost for duties listed in the contract that the firm was responsible to perform. Reich said he didn’t know whether the term ‘background checks’ was included in USF’s contract with Carr Sports Associates, but that use of the firm was intended to research potential candidates for the deputy athletic director position.

“But certainly it was to search the candidates’ background,” Reich said.

Former University of Florida athletic director Bill Carr, who runs the search firm, declined Monday to comment on the contract.

Arkansas State University also hired Carr to help select their new athletic director.

ASU’s president’s assistant, Pam Kail said the university was satisfied with the firm’s research and the choice they made for its athletic director.

Kail said she would not comment on the university’s cost to hire the firm but said when the firm began interviewing candidates in June, the institute requested that background checks be provided to the university as well.

Kail said the contract with the university stated it would provide professional information about candidates including background checks.

Johnson’s decisions as athletic director at Nova Southeastern University in Broward County led to a lawsuit against the institution by former softball coach Robyn Handler.

Handler cited Johnson’s decision that caused her to receive lower pay than her male co-workers in the department.

Johnson did not return phone calls Monday.

After Handler filed the lawsuit in May, she said she was fired by NSU, which stated she failed to meet performance standards.

In the 2001-2002 season, Handler’s team went 34-17 and was 18-2 in conference play.

But NSU president Ray Ferrero said there were no other reasons for her dismissal other than failing to meet performance standards. Handler, who served as NSU’s coach for eight seasons and the cross country coach for one season, said she filed a second suit against Nova under retaliatory termination.

“Her complaints have not prevailed,” Ferrero said, as the case is still pending in Broward County Circuit Court. “This person has a history of making allegations.”

Ferrero, who has been NSU’s president since 1998, added that Johnson’s performances as athletic director helped the institution progress in the NCAA Division II. Johnson said he left in 2001 to accept the position at USF.

“He was an outstanding (athletic director),” Ferrero said. “I wished he would have stayed, but after he left I wished him the best.”