By EDDIE CELAYA
An internal audit of Pima Community College athletics department business practices found late deposits, lax internal controls and improperly stored athletes’ documents.
The audit said current studentathlete’s files are properly secured at the Downtown Campus, but older records dating to the 1980s are kept in two separate broom closets in the West Campus gymnasium.
In an on-site interview at the gym, PCC Athletics Director Edgar Soto acknowledged the issues contained in the report.
“All of these things are issues we asked to be addressed,” he said. “We asked for this audit.”
A Finance and Audit Committee composed of college employees and community members conducted the audit last year, and issued its final report on Dec. 2. The newest audit was a follow-up to a larger November 2015 audit.
The report notes that since the initial audit, Soto and other high-ranking administrators have “updated management corrective action plans to address issues identified” within the audit.
The recent audit found problems with the athletics department’s timeliness in depositing donation checks. Eight of the 68 donation deposits reviewed by the audit took 30 days or longer to deposit.
Soto said new controls are being put in place to avoid such long delays, and offered an explanation for some deposits seeming to take more than a month.
“Sometimes when a parent is donating, they write a check in their checkbook and they don’t get it to the coach for a week or two,” he said. “They might date it today, but don’t get around to actually donating for a little bit.”
Similarly, “sometimes coaches throw checks into their games bags and don’t get around to checking it all in for a few days,” he said.
The audit also cited delays in processing receipts from game concessions. On two occasions, “game cash receipts deposits were not processed within three business days per cash handling procedures,” it notes.
Soto said one evening of men’s and women’s basketball games lead to both violations. “I believe that was over Thanksgiving,” he said.
The audit section discussing records for former student-athletes said files were kept in an area where “unauthorized” persons had access to them.
During the on-site interview, Soto allowed the Aztec Press to examine the two storage rooms. Both were locked at the time of the interview and required a key to enter. One room required two doors to be unlocked.
Soto said only athletic department staff have access to the rooms.
“A lot of this stuff is archival materials and trophies,” he said. “All the student info, we are in the process of moving to Downtown Campus.”
Chancellor Lee Lambert, writing in an email sent to PCC employees, said Soto requested the audit “in the spirit of continuous improvement and to address issues revealed in a 2012 audit, prior to Edgar’s leadership role.”
Lambert said the athletics department has made progress on issues identified in both audits, and has developed a timeline for implementing remaining changes.
“Frankly, this demonstrates the importance of having multiple layers of assurance,” Lambert wrote. “While the process does not always work as quickly as we might like, our detailed system of checks and balances worked as it should.”
With the spring athletic season in full swing and both basketball programs closing out historic seasons, Soto hopes the audit and its findings help improve the department.
“We’re just trying to provide the community with an idea of what’s going on in athletics,” he said. “We are just trying to stay accountable.”