Texas A&M audit shows problems in controlling finances

An internal audit indicates that the Texas A&M athletic department has problems in controlling its finances.

The San Antonio Express-News received a copy of the 25-page report that was written by six accountants from inside the Texas A&M system.

The Express-News reported Thursday that athletic director Bill Byrne's job is not in jeopardy because of the findings. But the A&M athletic director mentioned the audit in his weekly column posted on the school's athletic department Web site.

“The auditors also made one very serious observation,” Byrne wrote. “During the period under audit, they believed that we had limited monitoring of, and limited accountability for, daily financial operations. And during that time, the auditors were correct.”

Byrne wrote that he's personally fixed the problems that were mentioned by changing management in the business office. He remains "confident that our business operations are being conducted effective and efficiently today."

One area that came under scrutiny in the report was the lack of a balance sheet for the athletic department -- keeping the school from having a complete picture of athletic department expenditures and revenue sources.

More than $2.5 million in revenue and expenses were not included in the statements, the report said. About $1.1 million came through the school's 12th Man Foundation and about $1.4 million came in product revenues and expenses provided from athletic apparel contracts with industry giants Adidas and Nike.

Earlier this summer, news of fiscal problems at the school were revealed. In June, former university president Elsa Murano reported as part of her annual review that the university had loaned the athletic department $16 million four years ago. That resulted in a tight fiscal plan to begin immediately repaying that 10-year loan. In July, Byrne was responsible for eliminating 17 jobs in the athletic department.

The report wasn't a good sign for Byrne or the 12th Man Foundation, but it appears he has taken steps to get the financing under control. It's resulted in a change in the way that business is conducted at Texas A&M.

"Overall, in spite of the hardships imposed on our fans by the economy, the financial picture for the athletic department is healthy," Byrne said. "We have begun repaying the $16 million loan from the University and intend to adhere to its terms."