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“And if the bowl remains a part of the BCS, its handling of this matter will be closely monitored going forward. Bowl officials said the initial, brief investigation of the reimbursements allegations was "flawed." That probe found no evidence of any such wrongdoing. Woods, head of Waste Management Inc. for the Western Region, played a major role in saving the PGA's Phoenix Open. Now he's got a far bigger cleanup effort. He said the actions of Junker "unfortunately, have tainted the stellar reputation that the Fiesta Bowl has worked so hard to maintain for more than 40 years. The Fiesta Bowl, however, is greater than a few individuals; it is the product of thousands of dedicated volunteers and exemplary employees who work tirelessly and care so deeply about the Fiesta Bowl and all it does for the state of Arizona." Woods outlined the time line that began with a report in The Arizona Republic in December, 2009, that five former or current Fiesta Bowl employees had been reimbursed for political donations they were encouraged to make. A brief investigation by former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods, no relation to the board chairman, led the board to conclude there was no credible evidence to support the allegations. Now, the board says that report was "flawed." Duane Woods said that last September, an employee -- identified in the report as Junker's executive assistant Kelly Keough -- came to his office and told him that indeed the reimbursements had been made. That led to the lengthy probe that resulted in Tuesday's report. Retired state Supreme Court justice Ruth McGregor, one of the three-member investigative panel, said the trio was given full access to everything related to the probe without any resistance from the board. "We are confident that our report is thorough and accurate," she said. "Although the findings are deeply disturbing, I am gratified that the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors is moving forward with affirmative and concrete steps to address its problems." The reimbursements go back to at least 2002, the report concluded. The political donations, mostly to Republican candidates and causes, were not required but strongly suggested, several employees told the investigators. According to the report, when the initial investigation was made following The Republic's story, lobbyist Gary Husk helped guide Woods away from those who had actually been given reimbursements and groomed others who were interviewed on what to say. The Husk Brothers lobbying firm was paid $286,000 by the Fiesta Bowl in 2009, according to reports filed by the IRS. The board announced a series of steps to reform its operations and operate transparently to prevent any repeat of such problems. That includes hiring a chief financial officer and a general counsel/compliance officer. The bowl has three years left on its four-year BCS contract, but that might not protect it from the possibility of being booted off college football's biggest stage. There are plenty of other bowls that would like a chance to hold the highly lucrative national title game, including the Cotton Bowl played at the Dallas Cowboys' lavish new stadium. Cotton Bowl officials have never hidden their desire to return to elite bowl status. Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker declined comment through a bowl spokesman. Among the many expenditures questioned by the report was the 50th birthday celebration for Junker paid for by the Fiesta Bowl at a cost of $33,000 at Pebble Beach, Calif.;, his car allowance and paid membership in four elite private golf clubs. There also was a $1,200 trip for Junker and two others to a Phoenix strip club. The Fiesta, which also operates the Insight Bowl and many other smaller events, staged the highly anticipated matchup between Auburn and Oregon for the national championship this year. The seven-member BCS task force investigating the matter will be headed by Spanier and includes Northern Illinois president John Peters, Big East commissioner John Marinatto, Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters, and athletic directors Jeremy Foley of Florida, Bob Bowlsby of Stanford and Richard Giannani of Southern Mississippi.
Unprofessional, unethical or improper behavior is unacceptable. There is no place for such activities in higher education or in collegiate sports. It is expected that all parties contracted with the BCS will live up to the highest standards. We do not wish to be associated with entities that believe otherwise.” -- The Bowl Championship Series in a statement