The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) touts itself as “dedicated exclusively” to amateur sports, but a new investigation shows that the amateurs are floating some awfully big-league paychecks for the union’s officials, including a million-dollar golden parachute to a former president.
Founded in 1888, the AAU was created to bring “standards and uniformity” to amateur sports and claims to have over 670,000 participants and over 100,000 volunteers. The organization is supposed to be non-profit, but some of the group’s officials profiting handsomely in salaries and perks.
As ESPN reports, the tournaments that the AAU sponsors generate more than $20 million a year and a large portion of that money subsidize high-dollar salaries, including a $1.5 million payoff to a president that stepped down amid charges of sexual molestation charges.
As ESPN noted, “Executive leaders quietly paid the AAU’s former president, Robert ‘Bobby’ Dodd, $1.5 million when he stepped down in late 2011 amid allegations that he had molested young basketball players as a coach.”
In 2011, two former AAU players accused Dodd of molesting them when they were young boys in the 1980s. The AAU launched its own internal investigation and not long afterward Dodd resigned from his position.
But that isn’t the only financial impropriety ESPN reported that the non-profit indulged.
Other instances of abuse includes officials spending tens of thousands on corporate credit cards for fancy hotels and amenities, deficit spending on parties and galas, and at least one employee who billed the organization for years of 30-hour work weeks despite the fact that he held a full time job with an Ohio school system.
Some have also questioned the costly $500,000 deficit spending on its annual gala at a private club near New York City’s Central Park. After questions on costs were raised the gala was moved to Orlando, Florida for two years but this year it was moved right back to New York.
According to tax records, the AAU also carries a $12 million surplus in its accounts, an amount far and above what some experts judge that a “non-profit” should have on hand for its expenses.
There have also been other charges that another coach sexually molested teenaged players and participants in AAU tournaments.
It all adds up to a lot of questions that the AAU’s “culture of secrecy” doesn’t help to clear up according to the review of the organization’s activities.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com