A single SUNY-Cobleskill employee charged an eye-catching $182,000 in travel expenses, but state auditors who reviewed the spending say all of the money was spent properly in support of the college’s sports programs.
The audit by the Office of the State Comptroller showed that $157,000 of the $181,890 in travel vouchers filed by the SUNY-Cobleskill athletic director were related to renting buses to transport the college’s sports teams to games and that some of the remainder was related to the athletes’ meals, said OSC spokesman Mark Johnson. The state released the audit Monday.
“When you see $182,000 worth of travel expenses, it raises eyebrows. But when you dig deeper, you find out that this is what it was,” Johnson said.
“We did not find any wrongdoing.”
For the last year, the Comptroller’s Office has been auditing travel vouchers of the highest-cost travelers in the state, checking to see if they violated any policies. These employees incurred more than $100,000 in travel expenses during the three-year period ending March 31, 2011.
“These are travel audits for people that have mostly to do with athletics,” Johnson said.
The figure of $181,890 represents the total cost of all athletic team travel, meals, buses and rooms charged by the athletic director during that period using the SUNY travel card. It represents 20 sports, 345 athletes and more than 175 “away” events per year. Auditors found them to be legitimate expenses. The card is used to book all athletic teams — this is an efficient and effective way because it provides a precise accounting to the college for all athletic team expenses.
Diane Dobry, director of communications and marketing for the college, said the $181,890 covers the period when the college changed to a different competitive league. It moved from being a two-year athletic regional college to Division III college that competes with teams through southern Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
“So [our] expenses increased,” but they were still below the average of $1.3 million spent by colleges in athletics, according to a federal report titled “Equities in Athletics,” she said.
As part of the audit process, the Comptroller’s Office obtained vouchers, receipts and credit card statements for all transactions. Auditors then verified that documentation supported the charges and showed the expenses were for legitimate business purposes.
State auditors also reviewed the college’s internal policies and procedures and determined that the travel expenses selected for examination were approved and complied with this guidance, as well as with Comptroller’s Office procedures.
As a final check, auditors matched time sheet and travel records to ensure the traveler was working on days for which travel reimbursement was requested, and reviewed E-ZPass records, where applicable, to match against travel vouchers.
In a similar audit released Monday, the Comptroller’s Office found nothing amiss with $326,125 in travel expenses rung up by three employees at SUNY-Oneonta.