Thursday, January 10, 2008

Football Fervor May Help Law Students

This morning's Seattle Times has a front-page story about pressure from booters to dismiss UW football coach Ty Willingham and athletic director Todd Turner. There was also some significant support. The story quotes from various email messages the newspaper got from the UW using a public records request.

One booster ("Ed Hansen — lawyer, multimillionaire, University of Washington alumnus and former three-term Everett mayor") pledged "100,000 towards a law school scholarship" conditioned on Willingham's termination and "a second $100,000" conditioned on Turner's termination. The UW decided to retain Willingham, but Turner is leaving at the end of this month. (President Emmert says he doesn't remember seeing the message. He also says he doesn't pay attention to financial threats or inducements tied to personnel decisions.)

Asked about his e-mail to Emmert, Hansen said he never expected it to become public. He said he offered the money because he wanted to help law students and get the football team back to winning.

Hansen said he believed there was nothing inappropriate about his e-mail: "If someone is willing to make a gift of money for a charitable purpose, they are entitled to put conditions on it. The UW is free to do what it will do, and Ed Hansen is free to make contributions to the UW if he likes the direction things are going."

Asked if he planned to donate $100,000 now that Turner has resigned, Hansen said he'd never considered the possibility that Willingham would stay and Turner be gone. "Your call is making me evaluate that," Hansen told a reporter. Later, Hansen said, "I think, as you and I are talking, I will go ahead with the $100,000 I mentioned."
Huskies booster offered $100K for coach's firing, Seattle Times, Jan. 10, 2008.

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