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Fiesta Bowl Chief Exec John Junker Fired After Investigation Reveals Rampant Corruption

All of John Junker’s Tostitos have been exposed. The Fiesta Bowl’s board of directors commissioned an investigation into the chief executive’s personal fiefdom, finding instances of personal and political corruption which could lead to criminal charges and may threaten the bowl’s non-profit status. The Arizona Republic is reporting Junker has been fired and the Fiesta Bowl could lose its place in the BCS. Conference commissioners should be expecting a call, or seven, from Jerry Jones this evening.

You can read the entire report here. First we’ll tackle the personal highlights, because that’s juicier.

  • The Fiesta Bowl spent $33,000 to throw Junker a 50th birthday party at Pebble Beach, paying for flights, food, car rentals and lodging. (at least they picked a nice location.)
  • The Fiesta Bowl spent $75 to send flowers to the head of honors admissions at the Univeristy of Texas. Lucy Junker was applying to the program.
  • The Fiesta Bowl spent $13,000 on expenses related to Junker’s assistant’s wedding. The bowl flew Junker’s family and other Fiesta Bowl employees to the wedding. It also helped pay for her honeymoon.
  • The Fiesta Bowl paid a $1,200 strip-club bill in 2008 for Junker, former VP of media Shawn Schoeffler and Maricopa County sheriff’s lieutentant Aaron Brown. Schoeffler was reimbursed for six other trips to said business establishment. Junker’s comment about the trips: “We are in the business where big strong athletes are known to attend these types of establishments. It was important for us to visit, and we certainly conducted business.”
  • The Fiesta Bowl paid Junker an annual salary of $592,000, to run a football game once a year.

Now the political allegations, which are more serious.

  • “Nearly a dozen” employees admitted they were reimbursed with “bonuses” for making political donations and urged to lie about it. Junker and his wife were also reimbursed for a $4,200 donation to John McCain in 2007.
  • The Bowl also did a lot of toasting and not just for the players. It paid to cater political fundraisers, including ones for the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives in 2007 and the mayor of Scottsdale in 2009.
  • The Fiesta Bowl paid for “educational trips” for Arizona politicians and their families to cities such as Chicago and Boston.

These findings are awful, especially considering the revenue comes directly from the pockets of students and taxpayers. The University of Connecticut resold just 2,771 of the 17,500 tickets it was mandated to buy from the Fiesta Bowl, costing the school $2.9 million and resulting in a total $1.8 million hit.

To stay in good taste, this year’s “Fiesta Frolic” will probably have to abandon the cigars made from dollar bills.

[Photo via Getty]

 

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