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Auditor: $74,200 missing from Iowa athletic ticket deposits

[ 0 ] July 18, 2014 |
Passengers leave the Hawkeye Express after riding from Coralville to Kinnick Stadium. (Register file photo)

Passengers leave the Hawkeye Express after riding from Coralville to Kinnick Stadium. (Register file photo)

A state audit released Friday has determined that nearly $75,000 collected by the University of Iowa Athletics Ticket Office for Hawkeye Express tickets for three football games in 2011 was never deposited.

Those numbers are higher than an internal audit by the University of Iowa last year showed that two games’ worth of proceeds, or $66,000, was missing.

At the request of university officials, the state auditor investigated the UI Athletics Ticket Office and the operations of the Hawkeye Express, the train that transports fans from Coralville to Kinnick Stadium on football gamedays.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman reported none of the money collected for train tickets was deposited for games on Sept. 3, 2011, and Nov. 12, 2011, and only a portion of the money from the game on Sept. 24, 2011, was deposited. That totaled $74,200, according to the report.

UI in November 2013 fired employee Kathleen Willier, the ticket office’s accountant, for failing to follow the school’s cash handling procedures and unsatisfactory job performance, though no criminal charges have been filed against her.

University of Iowa Police Associate Director Lucy Wiederholt said while the case technically remains open, she does not anticipate there will be an arrest.

The auditor’s report includes recommendations for how UI can strengthen internal controls, including segregating duties for the recording and ticket sales, performing reconciliations of ticket sales to deposits and improving cash handling procedures.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said the university is appreciative of the state’s investigation and has already made changes to the Hawkeye Express ticket system that will begin this fall.

“The biggest change is that UI Parking and Transportation will now oversee all cash handling and ticketing procedures for the gameday Express,” Moore said. “Because they already handle that process for other parking options related to gameday, we thought that made the most sense to shift those responsibilities under UI Parking and Transportation.”

While ticket proceeds were required to be deposited within the week following a game, the state auditor determined that the proceeds from 31 gamedays were not deposited within that time period, including one game in which 157 days had passed before a deposit was made.

Mosiman reported that it wasn’t possible to determine if any additional collections at the Hawkeye Express Depot were not deposited because reconciliations, which show the differences between the cash balance on a bank statement and the amount shown in UI’s records, were not performed before the 2012 season.

According to the report, Willier, who oversaw the ticket-selling process for Hawkeye Express, had been questioned by internal auditors about the decrease in revenue in 2011 compared to 2010. She stated the drop was likely because of reduced ridership and riders reusing tickets, according to the report. Ridership had actually increased in 2011 from the previous year, however, according to ticket office numbers.

Auditors also reviewed Willier and her husband’s bank account to determine if there were any suspicious cash deposits. The audit found that less than $500 cash was deposited into a joint account after May 15, 2008, and no cash deposits were made between Sept. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011.

The state’s audit also examined the bank accounts of several other ticket office staff members, but found no large cash deposits.

The Hawkeye Express, which charges $12 for adults for a roundtrip and can carry as many as 200 people per trip, has been operating since 2004, and more than 4,200 fans ride the train on gameday.

Reach Josh O’Leary at 887-5415 or joleary@press-citizen.com.

Report on special investigation of the University of Iowa Athletic Ticket Office and Hawkeye Express

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Josh O'Leary: View author profile.

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