Statement from The University of Southern Mississippi on Recent Media Reports
Fri, 02/28/2020 - 13:29pm
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) takes seriously reports that it may have been the recipient of funds alleged to have been misused by the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC), resulting from MCEC’s relationship with the Department of Human Services. The University operates in an ethical, transparent manner and considers stewardship of public funds to be an essential part of maintaining the public trust.
As media reports indicated, the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation and MCEC entered into a lease agreement in 2017 that allows MCEC to utilize University athletic facilities, including the new Wellness Center, through 2022. As part of the agreement, MCEC had the opportunity to help guide the facility’s layout to meet its specific programming needs.
It is important to clarify a few points regarding recent media reports:
- USM’s role in the agreement is as the lessor of facilities, while MCEC’s role is to develop and conduct programming. MCEC proposed to the Athletic Foundation that the University facilities on University’s campus be leased by the Athletic Foundation and subleased to MCEC for delivery of services consistent with the MCEC mission as well as services that coincide with existing University activities and services and the mission of the University and the Foundation. USM is disappointed that the concept has not materialized to the extent presented to the University—through no fault of USM.
- The IHL Board approves certain contracts and agreements of the University; however, the board does not have jurisdiction to approve or disapprove agreements made between the Athletic Foundation and outside entities, such as the MCEC. The Athletic Foundation has the ability to establish those relationships of its own accord. Therefore, the IHL Board did not vote to approve an agreement between the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation and the MCEC.
- The agreement between the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation and MCEC stipulated that if MCEC should vacate or abandon the leased Premises and fail to use any part of the Premises for a period of twelve consecutive months, then MCEC would be considered in default and the Foundation shall be entitled to terminate the Sublease, with no refund of Rent.
The University of Southern Mississippi and the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation have acted in accordance with both the lease agreement and the sublease agreement.