The Washington State Executive Ethics Board today approved settlement of a case involving allegations that University of Washington President Richard L. McCormick and Athletic Director Barbara Hedges violated provisions of the state’s Executive Ethics Law when the UW participated in the 1999 Holiday Bowl and 2001 Rose Bowl. The allegations dealt with whether travel to the bowls by University Regents, staff and their families, and in some instances guests were in violation of state ethics laws.
The settlement included no finding of ethics law violations, agreement to set in place explicit policies governing University officials’ appearance at bowl games, and reimbursement by the University of the Board’s costs of conducting the investigation, amounting to $8,500. The settlement allows for the University to send its official delegation to this year’s Holiday Bowl according to its long-standing historical practices related to post-season bowl games and without violating provisions of the state ethics law.
Funds used by the University to pay travel and related expenses were specifically provided by the Pacific-10 Conference, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee, or other funds from outside sources. Neither McCormick nor Hedges were aware of any potential ethics violations and were following long-standing institutional practices in taking the team and an official University delegation to the post-season bowl games.
The University agreed that had explicit policies governing appearances by University officials at bowl games been in effect, it might have prevented allegations from being raised. The codification and enactment of the policies agreed to between the Ethics Board staff and the University were incorporated and made part of settlement. These will ensure that future participation in post-season bowl games is in compliance with the ethics laws. While there have been some minor modifications to prior practices under the newly stated policies, generally, the individuals invited and participating on behalf of the University will remain the same.
The investigatory process could have continued through a finding of reasonable cause by the Board with a formal hearing held later to determine whether a violation occurred. However, in this case, cooperation between the parties and the Ethics Board staff resulted in the formulation and implementation of policies to eliminate any potential problems that might have existed. The matter is now concluded without any further proceedings or any finding of reasonable cause or violation of any state ethics law.
Both McCormick and Hedges were individually named in the investigation because state ethics laws make individuals responsible for complying with the law rather than the agency itself, even though as in this instance both individuals were carrying out long-standing practices relating to bowl attendance by the University of Washington and other institutions of higher education, both in Washington and elsewhere.
For more information, contact Norman G. Arkans, Associate Vice President for University Relations at (206) 543-2560.