EDUCATION

FBI eyes Minnesota ticket sales records after manager firing

The University of Minnesota's athletic department has had a mountain of trouble to navigate over the last few years, unrelated to wins and losses and off the fields, courts and mats.

The latest problem to pop up was serious enough to warrant a report to the FBI.

The university has turned over athletic ticket sales transaction records to the bureau for examination of bookkeeping discrepancies that triggered the dismissal of a manager in the department earlier this year.

Brent Holck, who was the assistant athletic director for sales and service, was fired in February for violating university policy. He was let go almost immediately, after an internal audit discovered the discrepancies that dated back at least six years in the transaction records. Athletic department spokesman Jake Ricker confirmed the details on Friday, after they were first reported by WCCO-TV.

Minneapolis FBI spokesman Craig Lisher confirmed that the bureau had been made "aware of the information from the university" but declined to comment on whether an investigation was under way.

In just one year on the job, athletic director Mark Coyle has had all kinds of problems crop up.

Last week, a university investigation into associate athletic director of development Randy Handel prompted a demotion, a two-week suspension without pay and sexual harassment training. Handel was accused of inappropriate hugging, touching and comments toward a female subordinate.

Last December, 10 football players were suspended for the team's bowl game after the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action department found they violated the student conduct code. That stemmed from the investigation of a September incident in which a woman alleged being pressured into sex with multiple players.

Earlier last year, longtime wrestling coach J Robinson was fired after Coyle concluded he disobeyed orders from superiors regarding the handling of an alleged prescription drug ring that several wrestlers in the program were involved in.

Coyle was hired to replace Norwood Teague, who resigned in 2015 after two high-ranking administrators said he sexually harassed them at a senior leadership retreat. Teague acknowledged improper behavior. His deputy, Mike Ellis, quit months later after unspecified complaints were reported against him.

Ryan Dillon was hired in May to replace Holck in the role of running the ticket operation. Dillon has previously worked in sales with the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies baseball clubs.

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Associated Press Writer Steve Karnowski contributed to this report.