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Letters to the Editor – 4/23/13

More surreal than the three ironies cited by Laslo Boyd in his April 14 column regarding Towson Athletics [“Three shades of irony – the politics of Towson athletics”] is his curious failure to disclose his role as chief of staff to Interim President Marcia Welsh, which occurred at the onset of Mike Waddell’s tenure as athletic director.

A chief of staff in many ways effectively serves as a chief operating officer on behalf of a university president, and it was on Laslo Boyd’s “watch,” or failure to watch, when the athletic department, in lightning speed, began its skid from a solvent program to what would bankrupt most $18 million companies, saved only by reserves stashed away by prior stewardship.

David Nevins is the first target of Mr. Boyd’s three cited ironies. The Task Force Report, contrary to Mr. Boyd’s assertion, was eight pages long, not one page. Those in the know are aware that, as chairman, Mr. Nevins did not vote, as was his intention from the onset, lest his vote be required as a tie-breaker. Mr. Nevins signed the final report as “Respectfully Submitted” on behalf of the entire Task Force, including both the majority and minority opinions.

Boyd’s second cited irony is a diatribe of commentary regarding the influence of Nevins and Gary and Mike Gill with respect to key personnel decisions. “Ironically,” the three of them get the blame for Pat Kennedy’ s tenure even though none of them were on the search committee to hire him, nor were they involved in his departure. All that having been said, we do not apologize for our fondness toward Coach Kennedy and his fine family.

Regarding Title IX, the three of us have left no ambiguity as to our respect and support for the dictates of this law of the land. Citing the three of us, in his flippancy, as “three amigos,” Boyd accuses us as inaccurately challenging the university’s assessment of its Title IX responsibilities. Delete the word “inaccurately” from the prior phrase and we are in full accord. In his Sept. 26, 2012, recommendation to the president, Mike Waddell misrepresented (undercounted) the number of women participants in years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. His failure to follow the well-documented Title IX participation methodology grossly overstated Towson’s compliance shortcomings.

We are proud of the recent progress of our football and basketball programs. Mr. Boyd, in his uninformed manner, goes on to characterize us “supporters” as having gotten in the way of success rather than being contributors to it.

Since Mr. Boyd is the self-authored “irony” man, it is entertaining, if nothing else, that he lays our fingerprints on the hiring of Pat Kennedy, but is conveniently uninformed of our roles in more recent hirings. Prior to Mike Waddell’s hiring, Rob Ambrose was hired as the football coach. Gary Gill served on that search committee.

For the Mike Waddell fans, Mike Gill served on that search committee for a new athletic director. David Nevins served on the search committee that hired Pat Skerry as head basketball coach. Gary Gill served on the search committee that hired Sonia LaMonica as women’s lacrosse coach. In her first two years, LaMonica has been CAA coach of the year. If the aforementioned (perhaps excluding Waddell’s hiring) is “getting in the way of success,” we are guilty as charged.

Mr. Boyd’s third and final irony chastises Gov. Martin O’Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot for their admittedly unexpected involvement in the matter of eliminating baseball and men’s soccer at Towson. Contrary to Mr. Boyd’s view, does it not speak volumes that the governor and comptroller imposed their opinions, and ultimate support, because they recognized the fiscal mismanagement, and the exacerbated Title IX figures utilized to deflect the root of the problem?

Gary T. Gill

Gary Gill, a 1974 alumnus of Towson University, has served as chairman of the Board of Visitors, president of the Tiger Club, and is a past recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.

The usually thoughtful C. Fraser Smith must have had an off-day when he penned his April 12 column, “Locking out funds removes flexibility,” condemning the so-called lockbox provision for Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund, a provision that the General Assembly wishes to have added to the Maryland Constitution. Mr. Smith asserts that this restraint (modest as it is) will take away some budget flexibility from governors and general assemblies. Precisely.

What Mr. Smith never addresses is that it is a “Trust Fund” we are talking about here. That means that a deal has been struck between the people and their elected representatives — the people agree to pay a wide range of transportation-related user fees, fares, and taxes (including on gas) and the politicians, in turn, promise that those monies flowing into the Transportation Trust Fund will be spent for transportation purposes.

It’s a trust fund, not a piggybank. And yet, over the past decade, almost a billion dollars have been diverted out of the fund to be used for other governmental purposes and never repaid by governors and general assemblies. Worthy as those other purposes may be is completely beside the point. And then folks wonder why our roads and bridges and highways are increasingly in worse and worse shape, why there’s no money to improve and enhance public transit —“But we paid all those fees and taxes into the Trust Fund!”

At my urging, every member of Maryland’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding agreed that we need a constitutional amendment to provide a modicum of protection to the Trust Fund from the political exhortations of the moment. Importantly, it was the opening recommendation of our Nov. 1, 2011, report to the state’s elected representatives (not to mention the people of the state).

Mr. Smith’s ill-advised viewpoint only serves to encourage poor behavior and is exactly why citizens put so little faith in politicians and why the public is so cynical about its elected representatives. Either treat a trust fund as a trust fund or end the charade once and for all by deleting the word “trust” from our transportation fund.

Gus Bauman
Chairman, Maryland Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding