Well, you have to admire the creativity, if nothing else.
Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione delivered insider information to a small and select group of supporters in exchange for $1,200 a year to help underwrite his Web site coachfran.com, a person within the athletic department confirmed Friday morning.
The San Antonio-Express News published a story in Friday editions detailing an arrangement made between Franchione and 12 boosters. According to the report, Franchione routinely sent the boosters insider information on injuries and analysis of his players in the form of an e-mail called “VIP Connection.”
Franchione normally declines to discuss injuries unless they are season-ending and is never negative toward individual players in the media or in public. His discolsure of injuries in the newsletter, even without consent from a player, does not break any federal privacy laws, according to a spokesman for the Office of Civil Rights, which handles the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Neither Franchione, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne nor associate athletic director Mike McKenzie, who wrote the newsletter with Franchione’s permission, returned phone calls or was made available for comment. Byrne and Franchione, however, both released statements Friday afternoon explaining their sides.
It was said that Byrne was not pleased with the idea of the newsletter when he first learned of it and his words certainly support that assertion.
“I was first made aware of this VIP email list by a reporter two weeks ago,” Byrne said in the statement. “When I saw a copy of an email, I called coach Fran and recommended this program be discontinued. I understand he stopped at that time.
“Since then, I have learned the funding for the emails went to a company that hosts his website.”
Franchione, while acknowledging the newsletter and its intent, defended his position. He said his only reason for the newsletter was to pay for coachfran.com, a site he has maintained since his TCU days.
Upon learning of the existence of the newsletter, according to the Express-News, Byrne warned Franchione that it didn’t look good for the coach to be involved with such a newsletter. But according to a person inside the athletic department, Franchione, who makes more than $2 million in salary as the head coach, did not benefit financially from the newsletter. The department insider said the $1,200 checks went directly to the company that hosts coachfran.com.
Is there any way that this doesn’t end badly for Franchione? I mean, it might be different if he were this beloved icon with a long track record of success. That ain’t the case, so how does he survive this? I say start the countdown clock.