New board of Women's Basketball Hall of Fame holds first meeting

8:21 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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It's the tip-off for new leadership a new vision for the group that oversees the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Downtown Knoxville. The board of the newly formed Hall of Fame Management Incorporated sat down with museum employees on Monday for the first time to draw out a game plan for the Hall's future. That includes a National vision.

The Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC) ran that organization until a few months ago. They decided to split after KTSC's finances came under fire when a 10News investigation uncovered legal questions with the employment contract of its former CEO Gloria Ray.

It took at lot of work for Hall of Fame Management Inc, to make Monday afternoon's meeting possible. Over the past few months, the group changed its ame from Sports Management Incorporated (SMI), officially filed to become an independent organization, and started the process to permanently sever ties with KTSC. Board Chair David conklin has been leading the charge to re-organize Hall of Fame Management, Inc. since KTSC's board forced Ray out in February 2012. 

Conklin said the board's goal is to do things right, "To be very open. To be very candid with the public and make sure everyone knows what's happening. To do things properly, and our financial aspects of what we do, the legal aspects of what we do.'

New Board Introduced

At Monday's meeting the new board introduced themselves, reviewed the Hall's financal status, established committees, and declared its commitment to make sure the museum gains national attention in the years to come. Even though the board and staff have a lot of work ahead of them, leaders say their goal is to do things correctly. Vice Chair Joan Cronin said the board wants the women's basketball community to know the Hall's purpose is to recognize women beyond Tennessee who have played the sport.

"This is a way to honor women. It's a way to honor women that are successful and are leaders across the country," said Cronan.

Hall of Fame Management, Inc's board now has 12 members. That's eight more than the SMI board had when it functioned under the KTSC umbrella. The board includes: Carol Callan, David Conklin (Chair), Joan Cronan (Vice Chair), Gloria Deathridge (Treasurer), Karla Douglas, Greg Dunn, Carol Evans, Paul Montgomery, Traci Smith, Michael Strickland, Holly Warlick, and Susan Richardson Williams (Secretary).

Callan is President of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Board, the group responsible for nominating its inductees every year. Conklin, Smith, Montgomery, and Douglas are the original four board members of SMI. Conklin, in his role as Chair, asked Dunn, Warlick, and Cronin to join the group. Dunn is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Regal Entertainment Group. Warlick is the Head Coach of the Lady Vol's Women's Basketball team. Cronan is UT's Women's Athletic Director Emiritus.

"I'm excited about being part of a board that I think could really make a difference on something that is very, very positive," said Cronan.

The final three board members are appointed by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. Mayor Burchett appointed Susan Richardson Williams, a local Public Relations executive and prominent member of the local Republican Party, and Gloria Deathridge, a member of the Knox County School Board. Mayor Madeline Rogero appointed Carol Evans, Executive Director of the Legacy Parks Foudndation. These appointments are new for the board. They are an effort for Hall of Fame and board to operate under considerable transperancy before the public, something that didn't happen when it operated under KTSC.

"The people wer have on this board have special talents and will work so sell in hwat we have to do in making the Hall a national Hall, self-supporting, and self-sustainable," said Conklin.

Gaining Governance and Financial Control

Hall of Fame Management Inc worked with local attorney Tom McAdams to draft new bylaws, which they discussed at the meeting. Strickland voiced concern that the bylaws should requre the entire board to approve employee compensation levels and contract details so the board could "avoid" coming under scrutiny for the same legal issues that consumed KTSC before Ray's tenure ended.

The board is also taking control over a capital investment account with First Tennessee Bank that now holds over $4 million dollars that has been under signatory authority of KTSC since it was set up 15 years ago.

According to an audit of KTSC's records done by Pugh and Company in April 2012, about half of the money in that account was donated from supporters to be specifically used to pay for building construction. Those funds are restricted. The rest of the money is made up of unrestricted funds. Audit documents show most of it is interest earned over the years on the account balance.

Buying the Hall of Fame Building and Property and the eventual end of County Support

Money in the capital account will likely play a vital role in the board's desire to purchase the Hall of Fame building and property from Knox County. Mayor Burchett has previously said he wants it off the county books. The rest of it will continue to be used to pay for exhibits, and other operating costs as the board works to become self sufficient.

For the past decade, Knox County has granted the hall $150,000 annually to cover operating expenses. General Manager Dana Hart told the board that money was always transfered to KTSC because KTSC took care of payroll for both its employees and the Hall's employees. KTSC and SMI had joint bank accounts. Hart said whe was never allowed to do anything with the Hall's finances over the years except for budgets and audits. KTSC primarily controlled the cash flow.

At the end of June 2012, Hart made her first transaction by transfering money from the capital account into the Hall's operating account, which KTSC still manages. That money will cover salaries and benefits for the Hall's four full-time employees and 12 part-time employees for the 2013 fiscal year. KTSC and the Hall share one employee; the organizations are trying to determine the status of that postition.

County support for the Hall could end after the current fiscal year, however, because Mayor Burchett wants the Hall to eventually becoem self-sufficient. The board asked him to give them until January 1, 2013 to re-structure. Burchett agreed to one more year of funding to make sure the board has enough time to get back on its feet.

Transition Timeline to the Future

Hall of Fame Management, Inc expects to finalise their split from KTSC by the end of September. The board needs to establish a way to operate its own finances, including doing its own payroll, which KTSC will continue overseeing until the transition is complete. Conklin said their goal is to wrap up the transition before KTSC's contracts with Knox County and with the City of Knoxville expire at the end of October, in case those are not renewed.

"This Hall of Fame was built as a great foundation, and I think it can be better.  I think this board is looking forward to bigger and better things," Cronan said.

Previous story

A new era begins for the group that manages the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as its new leaders prepare to chart a new course for the Knoxville museum.

Hall of Fame Management Inc, formerly Sports Management Inc., is set to conduct its first board meeting Monday afternoon.

The organization split with the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation, and changed its name, in March 2012 after KTSC forced former President Gloria Ray out of her position.

Hall of Fame Management, Inc. now runs the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame near Downtown Knoxville.

Board President David Conklin calls Monday's meeting a vital step to improving the museum.

"It being the first meeting of the new board, it's critical that we get a good start in getting everything lined up to do what we need to do to effectively manage the Hall of Fame but also to begin the process of hopefully acquiring the hall of fame," said Conklin.

Conklin also told 10News the new board eventually wants to purchase the building from Knox County to permanently keep the museum in Knoxville.

Monday's board meeting begins at 1pm at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

10News will have a crew there and have a full report on 10News at 6.


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