Statement of UW Oshkosh on non-renewal of coach Tom Lechnir and Oshkosh Sports Complex renovation campaign:
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is choosing not to comment on the non-renewal of head baseball coach Tom Lechnir. It is a personnel matter in which Coach Lechnir is exercising his right to an appeal through our campus process, framed with respect to state of Wisconsin employment laws. That process is ongoing. The University has a strong respect for it and the confidentiality it affords our employees.
UW Oshkosh Athletics has chosen to take another direction with the Titan baseball program, and a national search for a new coach began last month. Coach Lechnir is under contract with UW Oshkosh until June 30, 2013. His contract non-renewal happened in 2012, and, in May of this year, the University made the decision to not extend a new contract to him.
With this statement, the University and UW Oshkosh Foundation are releasing financial records related to the baseball stadium component of the Oshkosh Sports Complex renovation campaign. The documents include a summary financial review of the baseball stadium element of the project, ordered by UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells after Coach Lechnir raised concerns this spring. The resultant report by the certified public accounting firm Clifton/Larson/Allen LLP of Oshkosh determined "no discrepancies in the recording of pledges and donations for the supporting documentation that we were able to review and it appears the Foundation properly recorded all contribution activity related to the Baseball Fund."
Approximately $8.9 million of the $10.5 million cost of the Oshkosh Sports Complex project has been raised. In addition to hundreds of gifts from community and alumni donors, the campaign benefited from a $1.5 million donation from the Oshkosh Convention and Visitor's Bureau, a $1 million donation from J. J. Keller & Associates and a $500,000 donation from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
As renovations came to a close and the project was dedicated in September 2008, the Great Recession hit. It posed a historic fundraising challenge for this institution and countless others around the state and country. We are confident the project's more than $1.6 million shortfall (a shortfall that was absorbed by the University, is being addressed by our Athletics Department and includes more than $285,000 in baseball stadium debt) will be closed within the next five years. Revenues will continue to come into the UW Oshkosh Foundation and University, and we are confident in our multifaceted efforts and timeline. The project is in good standing.
The Oshkosh Sports Complex is the product of an ensemble of community partners. It is one of the hallmark collaborations of UW Oshkosh, the city of Oshkosh, local school systems, area tourism agencies and our University and local community foundations. For nearly five years, this world-class, multi-sport venue has been an athletic home for the University, the Oshkosh Area School District and the Unified Catholic Schools of Oshkosh. It has hosted dozens of baseball, football, soccer, softball and track and field events each year, including regional and national competitions.
The complex is estimated to generate millions of dollars and many jobs annually in the local and regional economy. Just as important, it provides our local K-12 and University student athletes the opportunity to compete in a world-class facility while sparing taxpayers, local governments and school systems hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for developing and maintaining separate, competing athletic venues. UW Oshkosh could not be prouder of this collaborative project and its tremendous economic impact.
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