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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Tulsa Fires AD For His Role In Sports Betting Ring

Illustration for article titled Tulsa Fires AD For His Role In Sports Betting Ring

Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley was suspended last week, after his name appeared in FBI documents concerning an ongoing probe into an Oklahoma City gambling ring. Parmley told investigators that he had bet on both college and pro football games, but claimed he had stopped in 2010, when he was in Tulsa's athletic department but before he became AD. His ouster was made official yesterday, as school president Steadman Upham sent a letter to students and faculty announcing Parmley's termination.


That letter is below, but the key point is that Parmley lied about his involvement in Oct. 2011, when he was named interim AD. He told Upham that he was speaking to the FBI "solely due to a family connection to the person being investigated"—alleged bookie and racketeer Teddy Mitchell—and that his gambling was limited to "friendly wagers during personal golf games."

Neither of this turned out to be true. The Oklahoman obtained the unsealed affidavit that named Parmley as a client of Mitchell's, and in an interview with FBI investigators, Parmley admitted to placing bets on sporting events with him.

The obvious questions: did Parmley ever bet on Tulsa games, and did he use inside knowledge or influence when making his wagers? Tulsa is conducting its own investigation, as is the NCAA, and the FBI probe continues. Best case scenario is an "admitted gambler" who was able to keep separate his vice and his job. The worst case scenario is...something the NCAA is most definitely hoping not to uncover.

President Upham's letter:

A message from President Steadman Upham to The University of Tulsa Community

Dear Friends,

Today, I terminated the employment of TU Athletic Director Ross Parmley. His departure from the university is effective immediately.

I am saddened to make this announcement for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I considered Ross a true professional in intercollegiate athletics.

In October of 2011, Ross shared with me that he was cooperating in an FBI investigation pertaining to a gambling case in Oklahoma City. At that time, Ross told me that his involvement was solely due to a family connection to the person being investigated. For obvious reasons, I specifically asked Ross if he had ever gambled on college or professional sports. He told me that friendly wagers during personal golf games constituted the extent of his betting activities. I took Ross at his word, as I had no reason to believe there had been any acts of impropriety or non-compliance.

At that time he was still interim athletic director at The University of Tulsa. Approximately three months later, in January of 2012, based on a record of exemplary service of more than six years, Ross was promoted to the position of Athletic Director.

Ross Parmley is keenly aware of NCAA regulations regarding compliance issues. Since being hired by TU in 2005, Ross has annually signed an official document certifying that he had no knowledge of any NCAA violations involving The University of Tulsa.

On Tuesday, November 27, while I was out of the country, Ross admitted he had not been truthful in our 2011 conversation. He was immediately put on administrative leave and, at my direction, TU notified the NCAA. We subsequently launched our own internal investigation.

TU is cooperating fully with officials from the NCAA to comprehensively investigate this matter and bring it to a fair and proper conclusion. This a difficult time for TU and we realize that our reputation is at stake. We are determined to uncover the whole truth in every aspect of this case.

Peggy and I are currently in South America on a multi-country trip that had been planned long before my return to the Presidency in October. We are scheduled to return at the end of the month. In the interim, I will remain in close communication with senior university administrators, the members of the TU Board of Trustees and officials from the NCAA in regard to this matter.

The greatest professional privilege I have ever been given has been to serve as President of The University of Tulsa. I will continue to strive toward ever-greater moments for the students, faculty, staff and alumni of this exceptional institution of higher education. Thank you for your continued commitment to our future.

Steadman Upham