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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Defronked Rehired

Yes John, I've stolen your headline. You cleverly titled the email in which you, a UD reader at the University of Toledo, forwarded me this newspaper article, Defronked Rehired. I can't improve on that. Thank you.

For background, go here.

Excerpts from the Toledo Blade's update of this fast-moving story (When will the richly compensated corrupt AD be fired, and his salary shifted to Fronk? Will Fronk sue even if she takes her job back?) follow:

Days before she was to sue the University of Toledo for firing her, a former high-ranking member of UT’s athletic department learned she was going to get her job back.

Suzette Fronk, UT’s former assistant athletic director for business affairs, was told yesterday by her lawyer, Kevin Greenfield, that university President Lloyd Jacobs intends to reinstate her.

...Rick Stansley, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, told The Blade that he was made aware of Dr. Jacobs’ initiative yesterday.

“I’m happy about the fact that we have an administration that can look at what’s happening, determine if it’s right or wrong, and make an adjustment,” Mr. Stansley said. [Hail Mary Pass, Desperation Move, Last-Minute Ass-Save... There are better words than adjustment.]

Ms. Fronk was notified in a letter from the university’s human resources department May 15 that her job was being eliminated as a “result of the reorganization related to the merger of the University of Toledo and Medical University of Ohio.”

But last week, The Blade obtained an e-mail written by UT Athletic Director Mike O’Brien that stated he “eliminated” Ms. Fronk’s position and that she was the “ultimate disgruntled employee.”

“I had to eliminate her role as she was a tremendous blow to our morale; among other things,” Mr. O’Brien wrote to Blade Vice President and General Manager Joseph H. Zerbey IV. Reporters obtained the e-mail through a public records request and not from Mr. Zerbey.

Mr. Greenfield said the UT lawyer told him Dr. Jacobs plans to rescind the termination letter given to Ms. Fronk on May 15.

Her accusations of improper spending and other financial practices within the athletic department led to investigations by the university and The Blade into UT athletics. [That certainly can be a blow to morale.]

Dr. Jacobs and other university officials originally told The Blade Ms. Fronk’s job was eliminated and her duties would be moved to UT’s finance department.

... Reached by phone yesterday while traveling out of town, Ms. Fronk said she’s looking forward to discussing her return to UT with Dr. Jacobs.

“Absolutely,” Ms. Fronk said when asked if she’d consider accepting Dr. Jacobs’ offer. “I’ve always enjoyed working for the university. … In light of some poor decisions made in the past, they decided to rectify them in a positive way.”

Ms. Fronk was going to sue UT because she believed she was fired for doing her job. According to Ms. Fronk’s hiring notice from 2001, she was charged with “assisting the athletic director with financial planning [including revenue and cost projections]; providing budget control, and managing transaction-processing functions.”

University records obtained by The Blade show that Ms. Fronk faced resistance from Mr. O’Brien and other UT athletics staff members over the last two years when she raised questions about spending, travel, and other financial practices within the department as its projected budget deficit grew to as much as $2 million. Last week, UT officials said the athletics deficit would top out at around $1 million this year.

...[Fronk's lawyer] said the university will determine if Ms. Fronk’s base salary of $65,000 is too low, based on concerns that her pay was less than what other athletics administrators were making with similar levels of experience and responsibility. [Whatever you say, Ms Fronk!]

Ms. Fronk’s lawyer said Dr. Jacobs’ initiative does not constitute a settlement with his client.

“We can certainly explore legal options and we hope to discuss a financial resolution to this problem,” Mr. Greenfield said. [She's going to cost them big. So's getting rid of the AD. Watch that deficit grow.]

Perhaps the most stunning component of Dr. Jacobs’ intent to reinstate Ms. Fronk is that the move will again place her in the same work environment with Mr. O’Brien.

... Unless something changes, Mr. O’Brien will be working with — and supervising — Ms. Fronk, who appears to have the UT president’s direct support. [Awkward.]

When asked if Dr. Jacobs is planning to fire Mr. O’Brien, or if Mr. O’Brien is expected to resign, Mr. Klinger said, “It’s my understanding that Mr. O’Brien’s status is not expected to change.”

According to university documents, Mr. O’Brien’s contract expires June 30, 2008.

His base salary this year is $160,199.

Last month Dr. Jacobs ordered structural changes within the athletic department, some of which were because of questions Ms. Fronk raised and the ongoing federal probe into a point-shaving scheme involving UT football and basketball players. [Classic archetypes battling it out here... The bad boy and his larcenous ways ... The good girl who actually takes her job seriously ... But the plot outcome's all messed up. She should be out on her ass... almost was... until she remembered that America has a legal system...]