TULSA, Okla. – Two televangelists have resigned their posts as regents at Oral Roberts University, as the debt-ridden school tries to regroup following a spending scandal involving its former president.
Benny Hinn and I.V. Hilliard have resigned as regents, where they were involved in making major school decisions, university spokesman Jeremy Burton said Thursday. Burton declined to say why the two resigned, but said both wrote the board to express their support for the school's mission.
The resignations come a month after the resignations from the board of regents of two other televangelists, Jesse Duplantis and Creflo Dollar.
Hinn and Dollar are among six televangelists being investigated by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley to determine if the high-profile preachers violated their organizations' tax-exempt status by living lavishly on the backs of small donors. They have denied wrongdoing.
A phone message left after-hours Thursday at Hilliard's ministry, The New Light Christian Center, was not immediately returned. Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for Hinn, did not immediately respond to an e-mail message sent after-hours Thursday seeking comment.
The resignations follow that of Richard Roberts, who stepped down as university president in November amid allegations he misspent school funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle. Roberts, the son of school founder Oral Roberts, held the position at the 5,700-student school since 1993.
Former regent Harry McNevin, who resigned 20 years ago over what he says was excessive spending by Oral and Richard Roberts, said Thursday's resignations couldn't have come soon enough.
"The whole board needs to go," McNevin said. "I see (the university) as a corporation belonging to the Robertses."
Meanwhile, the first court-ordered mediation session between university officials and three former professors who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school appeared to reach a stalemate late Thursday, said Gary Richardson, an attorney for the professors.
The professors have accused Richard Roberts of spending school funds on shopping sprees, a stable of horses for his family and a Bahamas trip for his daughter and her friends aboard a university jet — all with the university more than $50 million in debt. Richard Roberts has denied wrongdoing.
Richardson said he saw no possibility of resolving the matter through mediation "unless there's a major change in attitudes."
A phone message left with school attorney John Tucker seeking comment Thursday was not immediately returned.