A nearly year-long review by the House Post Audit Bureau concluded that “MIAA’s lack of urgency regarding deteriorating financial condition is puzzling.”
The MIAA told the watchdog it has since found a more stable financial footing, in part through corporate sponsorships, including a 10-year partnership in 2021 with TPG, a sports marketing company that guaranteed the organization $100,000 up front and an annual income of at least $450,000 after the first year.
The MIAA also received about $875,000 in pandemic-related government loans, of which $700,000 was forgiven, according to the report.
Presiding over the agency’s financial struggles, along with the board, was longtime former executive director William N. Gaine Jr., who retired in 2021, just as the audit was launched . Gaine’s successor, Robert Baldwin, told the House panel “that he intends to correct MIAA’s financial situation,” the report said.
Baldwin said in an interview that the report provides more than enough evidence to support his efforts to improve the organization’s finances and strengthen its transparency.
“I see this as a positive that keeps us moving forward,” Baldwin said.
An MIAA auditor told the Oversight Office during Gaine’s tenure that the organization was in a “strong financial position” with sufficient working capital, greater than what was available five years ago.
However, the oversight committee, citing an internal MIAA investigation, said the organization’s member schools share a less rosy view of its finances, “finding them unclear rather than transparent.”
Additionally, “the official MIAA website is overly complicated, difficult to understand, and unresponsive to users,” the report said. “The website is not ‘transparent’ within the usual definition of that word.”
The MIAA told the office that a new website was under construction.
The report makes numerous recommendations aimed at improving MIAA’s financial transparency. They include restoring all financial records to the MIAA website, posting all tournament income and expenses on the site, and submitting an annual letter on the organization’s financial condition for five years. beginning in 2023, to House committees, the state auditor, and Massachusetts. Association of School Committees.
The House committee released a statement from Chairman Ronald J. Mariano, saying the MIAA “has had long-standing issues that impact athletics in Commonwealth public schools and our students.”
Mariano said he hopes the recommendations “serve the MIAA as a way forward for operations.”
Rep. John J. Mahoney, a Democrat from Worcester who chairs the Post-Verification and Oversight Committee, said the report “aims to ensure that Massachusetts high school athletes have the best possible experience.”
Mahoney said, “We believe the report is a fair and honest assessment by the MIAA. We have had several conversations with them and are encouraged by their response.
Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.