Lawmakers approve audit of U of U Athletics Department

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SALT LAKE CITY – Senate President Wayne Niederhauser addressed reasons why an audit of the University of Utah Athletic Department is underway.

"I think it's appropriate for Legislature to go in periodically in areas where we don’t know what’s going on and do an audit," Niederhauser said.  "So, that’s the discussion we had."

The request was approved by a four-person panel back on Feb. 1.  Since the approval, however, some fans have questioned the timing of the request.

An audit of an athletic department has never happened in Utah before, and this audit request comes about a month after the University of Utah announced it was ending its basketball rivalry with the BYU.

In January, Speaker of the House Greg Hughes looked at legislation that would mandate the rivalry continue, however, that action never came to fruition. Hughes was one of the four panelists on a subcommittee earlier in the month that passed the audit, which raised eyebrows even further.

Niederhauser said the timing was all a coincidence though.

"It's not uncommon for us to audit someone, especially because they hadn't been audited before," he added.

The request was put forth in the final minute of the hour-and-a-half subcommittee meeting.

"The President just through that out at the end of the meeting and said, 'I would like to do a performance audit,'" said Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, who approved the audit.  "Everybody was looking forward to adjourning and leaving.”

Davis said Utah's cancellation of the rivalry game had nothing to do with his decision to approve the audit. Instead, he said he was interested to see how the University was spending millions of dollars of new money since joining the Pac-12 Conference 5 years ago.

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