At the Nov. 2 Mitchell City Council meeting, Dakota Wesleyan University Athletic Director Curt Hart made an unscheduled presentation during the citizens’ input portion of the meeting. He said he’d learned since starting his job in February that DWU had no role in the city’s effort to build a 10-field soccer complex in northern Mitchell. He encouraged the "powers that be" at DWU to change that, he told the council.
"They bought into it and said that we would make a $150,000 donation to the soccer complex," Hart told the council at the Nov. 2 meeting. His statement was followed by applause from those in attendance.
I was covering the meeting for the newspaper. I remember thinking that it was a nice gesture by DWU, but I also thought, "Since when does DWU have $150,000 to donate to a soccer complex?" Back in February, around the same time that Hart started as DWU’s athletic director, I wrote a story in which a DWU official admitted to some "budget challenges" at the institution.
A few days went by, I got busy with other things, and I didn’t give much thought to the issue. Then, we received a call from someone who wished to remain anonymous. The person urged us to look into the donation because, according to the caller, the donation was not a donation at all.
I started looking into it and wrote a story, which was published today. By some people’s thinking, DWU negotiated a typical user-fee contract with the city and then labeled it a "donation." By other people’s thinking, the contribution is actually a donation. And by still other people’s thinking, it doesn’t matter what the contribution is labeled. As Mayor Lou Sebert told me, "money is money."
With stories like these, the final judgment is always the reader’s. What do you think of this situation?