Update Feb. 3, 2016: An inaccurate and misleading report about the conclusion of our external investigation was widely circulated today by the Associated Press, a report that has since been corrected by AP. As I shared with you yesterday, WSU hired an independent investigator this fall to complete an investigation into a complaint against a former employee within the athletic department. The independent investigator concluded that the university and athletic department acted appropriately in response to the complaint, and there was no wrongdoing on the part of the university or athletic department. The report also identified several areas for process improvement.
It is my hope that these findings will reassure all members of the WSU community that we are committed to student safety and to providing a positive, respectful learning environment and workplace for all. We will work tirelessly to safeguard the wellbeing of our students and our community, and will respond immediately and thoroughly to any complaint.
Scott R. Olson
Today I sent a message to our campus community to inform them of the conclusion of the external investigation into a complaint made by a Winona State University student against a former employee of the athletic department. I asked the investigator not to limit his inquiry to the facts of the complaint but to pursue any other matters that came to his attention regarding the athletic department.
In sum, the investigation uncovered no additional inappropriate acts involving students and no cover-up or retaliation against other students or employees. The investigation did identify some processes for us to improve upon—not related to the original complaint – and work is already underway to address these areas for improvement.
A summary of those findings follows:
- Although there was no evidence of financial impropriety found, procedures for handling payments to summer athletics camp employees need to be improved.
- Those who supervise others should be routinely consulting with our human resources personnel, particularly when dealing with employee problems and situations that they have not encountered before.
- While there are no concerns that any employee donations to the WSU Foundation have been misspent, we plan to review how employee donations are monitored and are considering additional ways to be more transparent about employee-donated funds.
- The employment status of graduate assistants during the course of their appointments needs to be clarified, and the appointment process itself needs to be improved.
Unfortunately, we are unable to make the details of the investigation public, as it deals with current and former employees, whose privacy is protected under Minnesota’s government data practices law. However, the investigator has developed an executive summary of his report that is public; if you would like a copy please contact Lori Reed in the Human Resources Office.
I am pleased that the external investigation did not uncover any systemic issues within the athletic department, and I hope these findings serve to reassure you that we remain unwavering in our commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of our students and providing a positive learning environment.
I truly appreciate your continued support of Winona State University.
Scott R. Olson