New York Racing Association board Chairman David Skorton is taking a job in Washington, D.C., next year, but hasn’t indicated whether he’ll leave the NYRA board in the near future.
Skorton, who is Cornell University’s president and was appointed chairman of NYRA’s board of directors in 2012, announced his intentions to take a job as the next secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In accepting the new position, he said he’ll continue at Cornell through June 30, 2015, after which he will relocate to the nation’s Capitol.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead the Smithsonian Institution, one of our true national treasures,” Skorton said in a statement released Monday, the day after the museum’s Board of Regents approved his hire. “While I look forward to beginning my new assignment, I am delighted that the timing will enable me to commemorate Cornell’s sesquicentennial as president.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Skorton to NYRA’s board in October 2012, lauded his selection as the Smithsonian’s next secretary. He described Skorton as “a tremendous asset” to the state and thanked him for his public service.
“During his remarkable tenure as president of Cornell University, he has also personally overseen the transformation of the New York Racing Association and jump-started critical reforms of New York’s thoroughbred racing industry,” the governor said in a statement.
Skorton could not be reached for comment Monday. A spokesman was unsure of his plans for his NYRA role.
Skorton didn’t mention any impending career change during the NYRA’s board meeting last week. Eric Wing, a spokesman for NYRA, also didn’t make any mention of Skorton leaving any time soon.
“Dr. Skorton is the chairman of the New York Racing Association Board, and we believe that he will continue to lead the board with distinction,” he said in an e-mail.
NYRA, a private nonprofit corporation, is now in the second of three years under state control.
The 17-member board — the majority appointed by the government — is expected to run NYRA through 2015, when it will revert back to private control.
Cuomo and the state Legislature moved to create the board after the state Racing and Wagering Board reported that $8.5 million due to bettors was withheld by various vendors because NYRA was using an incorrect takeout percentage on bets on its races for roughly 15 months. Discovered in December 2011, the error lead to the termination of NYRA President Charlie Hayward and General Counsel Patrick Kehoe six months later.
An investigation into NYRA by the state Inspector General is ongoing.