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Institute: Documents reveal Doyle used political inside track to impress URI officials

April 6, 2012

The Institute for International Sport on the URI Kingston campus Photo by Kathleen McKiernan

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – For the past 23 years, tensions strained the relationship between the University of Rhode Island and the Institute for International Sport as URI officials fought for thousands of dollars the nonprofit and its executive director Daniel Doyle owed the school.

Documents released this week to The Narragansett Times - spanning the Institute’s beginnings in 1985 to its apparent closure in 2012 when a state police investigation began – reveal that URI officials began chasing Doyle down for money as early as 1989.

The documents also show a severed relationship between URI and Doyle as the Institute’s director touted political connections to sway URI officials to keep funding the nonprofit whose goal was world peace through sport. The sour relationship becomes clear through a March 2008 internal email from former URI President Robert Carothers, who states “I’m getting angry at this attempt at bullying [by Doyle].”

The investigation that led state police to raid the Institute on URI’s Kingston campus and Doyle’s home in Hartford is a result of a state audit released in November questioning the whereabouts of $7.3 million in state funds, including a $575,000 legislative grant intended to construct a building that remains unfinished five years later.

The history between the two organizations began in 1986 when URI agreed to provide Doyle – first hired as the special assistant to the vice president for development – a $40,000 annual salary plus state benefits on the caveat that URI would be reimbursed. Doyle’s main role would be to implement the Institute’s programs. By the end of his employment, the university was paying Doyle $70,000 a year.

Though URI says Doyle was fired on Nov. 20, 2011, he actually was placed on a three-month leave to “work on financial plan to cover future payments.” He was due back Feb. 25, 2012, when he was scheduled to reimburse the university for his mounting debt. On that date, Doyle paid URI $380,846.

At the start, Doyle had powerful people on board to ensure the success of the nonprofit and its stay in Kingston, including the late URI President Edward “Ted” Eddy.

Captured by what the Institute had to offer – national and world recognition and praise – Eddy enthusiastically brought Doyle’s brainchild onto the URI campus as an arm of the University of Rhode Island Foundation.

In a July 11, 1986 letter to the URI Foundation, Eddy pushed for support.
“The Institute can provide substantial benefits to the university as we seek to make the campus more exciting and attractive for young people. Therefore, I am requesting the Foundation’s support as we take the first step in the program,” he writes.

Eddy soon signed on as the vice president of the Institute’s first 15-member board, which included top officials in the academic, corporate and sports worlds.

Members to initially shape the Institute’s mission include its chairman then-President and CEO of Mastercard International Russell Hogg; URI’s former vice president of business and finance Americo W. Petrocelli; former Gov. Edward DiPrete; and the Penn. State University football coach Joe Paterno.

With much gusto, Eddy convinces Paterno to join the inaugural board in a Feb. 10, 1987 letter, stating “Just remember Joe: You lead me down this path; you can’t abandon your tutee. Please do it if you can.”

MasterCard would later become the Institute’s first sponsor committing $150,000 over three years in unrestricted funds in return for official recognition.

As the Institute’s board chairman Hogg became point man on fundraising and networking on the Kingston Campus and Smith Hill.

During the Institute’s early years, Doyle promised to establish a Sports Corps program that would help the university develop three master of science degree programs in physical education.

URI physical education Prof. Richard Poliduro writes to Doyle on July 6, 1987 that “the department faculty has, from the beginning of the Institute to the present, expressed a real interest and enthusiasm to develop the Sports Corps program. Keep up the good work. The progress made since last June has been excellent.”

Yet, URI spokeswoman Linda Acciardo states that the university “does not see that [any master degree programs] materialized.”

Over the years as debt continued to accumulate, university officials began to recognize red flags.

In May 1987, Thomas Pezzullo, vice president for university relations, questions the Institute’s budget, saying the one he received from Doyle was “completely unacceptable in that it made no provision for reimbursement for salary, auto lease or rental.”

The signs of financial problems became glaring in 1989 when Robert Comford, URI’s former vice president for business and finance, asks university officials whether they want to stop payments, warning that URI “may not be able to pay their bills.”

Later in 1991 when the Institute was expected to leave its office space at Adams Hall and move to its existing location, Russell Hogg, chairman of the Institute’s board, requested the transfer be pushed off until December to give the Institute time to discuss plans for the 1991 World Scholar Athlete Games. By December, Hogg requested free rent as stipulated in the first agreement with the DiPrete.

In August 2010, Linda Barrett, URI’s director of budget and financial planning, attempted to put the brakes on funds going to the nonprofit by refusing to sign a requisition to Doyle “as the [Institute] owes the University approximately $400,000.”

Despite URI concerns, Doyle and his board of directors took advantage of political connections in Rhode Island to ensure continued state and university support. In several letters, Doyle mentions political movers and shakers – including his brother Michael Doyle, Senator Bill O’Neill and former House Speaker Matthew J. Smith.

Though Michael Doyle, DiPrete’s former chief of staff, claims he only served to jump-start his brother’s organization, Doyle refers to his brother many times and copies him on several documents.

In a March 13, 1986, letter to Eddy, Doyle writes, “pursuant to your conversation with my brother Michael, I enclose an overview of the Institute for International Sport. As you know, I did contact your office yesterday and look forward to meeting with you on Tuesday at 11 a.m.”

Four days later on March 19, Doyle tells Eddy it was “good to meet with you yesterday” and “I look forward to seeing you in April.” Doyle mentions an “Irish American Sports Program” dinner on April 16 hosted by Eddy at the president’s official residence.

Though Michael Doyle was on the original guest list, a handwritten note in Eddy’s files removes him, indicating it would be “better he not be there. Conference call after dinner.”

Meanwhile, in a May 13, 1991 letter to Eddy, Institute Chairman Hogg writes that State Rep. Raymond Fogarty would lead a group of legislators from the House Finance Committee to the campus “whose task it is to insure that the Institute will continue its association with the state and URI.”

Now the Director of the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, Fogarty in an interview Tuesday says Hogg asked if it he knew anyone at the State House who supported the Institute.

“Every legislator I knew supported keeping it at the university,” Fogarty said.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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