Audits warned of lax Michigan State athletic money oversight

Audits show Michigan State University's former athletic director Mark Hollis and former President Lou Anna Simon were repeatedly warned that sports staff members weren't adequately following the school's financial procedures.

The Lansing State Journal obtained the university's internal audits through a public records request. Hollis and Simon left the university this year in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Auditors reported that athletic officials didn't regularly review department finances and misused university-issued credit cards. Auditors also warned the athletic department six times that complimentary game tickets were being handled improperly.

The university's athletic department has a $128 million budget.

A university spokeswoman said the audits show no evidence of fraud or missing funds.

The audits show officials offered explanations and improvements for each finding, but the same issues reappeared in subsequent audits.

The department was cautioned twice about giving an employee access within the university's payroll software that would allow them to unilaterally hire, fire and change pay rates, among other things. Though Hollis' staff promised in 2013 to look into making changes to roles and responsibilities within the system, auditors shared a nearly identical warning last March.

Department officials then promised to make changes by last April.

Auditors also warned of inconsistent financial reviews again last year. The department's leadership said it was introducing new software and would "ensure that all accounts are assigned to a reviewer, including new accounts as they are added."

Hollis' administration said the changes would be made by July 2017.

It's unclear if either of these changes were made last year. The auditor's 2018 report, covering the 2017 fiscal year, hasn't been finalized yet, said spokeswoman Jessi Adler.

The university's internal audit department and trustees didn't respond for comment.