Illinois Athletic Director Neale Stoner says allegations of misconduct are false, but he will resign so the "media-created controversy" does not hurt the university's sports program.
"As the public is aware, long before the audit was complete and the facts known, the local press tried and convicted me based on anonymous allegations and rumors," Stoner said Tuesday. "These allegations and rumors now have proved to be completely unfounded."But UI Chancellor Morton Weir said an investigation did reveal improper personal use of Athletic Association gifts and services by Stoner.
Weir said the entire episode made it impossible for Stoner "to continue to be effective as director of athletics," so he and Stoner agreed to the resignation.
He said attorneys expected details of Stoner's resignation to be worked out later this week, and that the settlement "won't be costly."
The university began an investigation of the Athletic Association this spring after employes charged they had been ordered to clean Stoner's swimming pool, move him to a new house, build cabinets, install a workbench and repair his automobiles.
Stoner said during his more than eight years as athletic director he did, on a few occasions, allow AA maintenance employes to do personal work for him -services worth about $904. He said that practice was well established in the AA before he came to Illinois.
"However, in light of this local media-created controversy, I have chosen to resign so that accusations will no longer interfere with the effective operation of the Athletic Association," Stoner said.
The maintenance employes also said they did personal work for Stoner's top aides, but Weir had no immediate comment on the future of any other AA officials.
The UI athletic board was scheduled to meet Friday to receive a report on the probe, along with Weir's recommendations.
The non-profit Athletic Association, headed by Stoner and overseen by a board of directors, directs the school's intercollegiate athletic programs with considerable independence from the university.
Weir, who plans to bring the AA under greater school control, said Tuesday that Stoner had indicated he did not wish to continue as director under that kind of structure.
The chancellor said the school's investigation revealed that over a five-year period, AA employees performed work on Stoner's home, yard and family cars.
In addition, he said dry-cleaning services credited as a donation to the AA were used by Stoner and his family, though the company did not take the donation as a tax deduction.
"I have stated previously that I believe these are improper," said Weir.
"Neale strongly disagrees . . . Whether this conduct in and of itself would have warranted his discharge will remain an open question."