ANNAPOLIS – University officials assured lawmakers Thursday that there will be “no questions” about future contracting procedures like those that swirled around Coppin State College and former Sen. Larry Young.
But University System Board of Regents member Wendell M. Holloway said he still does not know why Coppin paid Young more than $34,000 under a no-bid, oral contract for consulting work.
“People do screw up,” Holloway said, adding that the board of regents is scheduled to receive a report Friday from auditors who investigated the case.
House Appropriations subcommittee members did not press the issue with Coppin State President Calvin W. Burnett, who was making his first appearance before a legislative body since he testified on the Young affair.
Burnett, who set up the deal with Young, was received warmly by subcommittee members. They listened while he discussed Coppin’s athletic department budget in detail.
“The college is growing and we have a lot to look forward, too,” he said.
“Our nursing school is ranked just as high as our basketball team,” he said jokingly, explaining the program has gotten excellent ratings.
While many speculated that the Young deal would cost Burnett his job, he and other university leaders said Thursday it is time to move on to educational issues.
The Senate voted last month to oust Young for violations of ethics laws, including the Coppin contract.
Auditors examined the services that Young provided to the college in exchange for $34,500 in payments since August 1996. At first, they investigated the no-bid consulting contracts, but later whether any services were provided at all.
Del. Nancy Kopp, D-Montgomery, said at the outset of Thursday’s hearing that several lawmakers were questioning the rationale behind the contract.
Kopp, the chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development, said she wanted to make sure that procurement policies were in place for other colleges.
Chancellor Donald Langenberg told Kopp that the university system’s spending and purchase laws are no different from the state.
“In the future there will be no questions,” about what to do when making payments for services, said Holloway.
He said the incident is still being investigated by the regents.
“Issues are being thoroughly examined and looked into,” Holloway said. “There may have been an error or it could have been an oversight.”