Longtime supporter will no longer donate to ASU after "deceitful" bidding process - The Herald: News

Longtime supporter will no longer donate to ASU after "deceitful" bidding process

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Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:02 pm

A longtime donor to A-State, Mark Fowler, has announced he will no longer donate to the school after he said he felt deceived by the Red Wolves Foundation during a bidding process.

The Fowler family is a long-time supporter of A-State, including a $5 million donation to build the Fowler Center back in 1998.

According to Fowler, the issue arose when his company HomeTroniX participated in bidding on the North End Zone Expansion project, which includes adding new seating, locker rooms and a waterfall to the Centennial Bank Stadium. Various local companies engaged in a bidding process to outfit the expansion with new electronic equipment, such as speakers and televisions.

“We were told by Adam (Haukap), the executive director … Crestron was not required for the bid,” Fowler said. Crestron Electronics is a brand of theater-style electronics. When the stadium was renovated in 2015, the press box was outfitted with Crestron equipment by local business Sound Concepts.

Fowler said prior to submitting his bid he met with Haukap, the executive director of the Red Wolves Foundation, and Rich Zvosec, Deputy Director of Athletics. Fowler said Zvosec told him to modify or change the equipment in certain rooms, and reassured him that Crestron would not be required for the bid.

After turning in their final, revised bid, Fowler was informed that HomeTroniX’s bid was the lowest bid, but did not contain Crestron equipment and had fewer televisions than the winning bid.

Fowler met last month with ASU Chancellor Kelly Damphousse to discuss the issue before ultimately deciding to no longer give money to the school.
“I have to emphasize, this was never a low bid, high bid moment for me,” Fowler said. “It was being told not to bid a particular equipment and then being told I didn’t get the job because of that equipment. That is it right there.”

If they would have told me Crestron was required, I would have explained to them how I could get it and do it. Then they could have said at that point ‘we don’t want to go that route’,” Fowler added.

He said he wouldn’t have viewed the actions of the Red Wolves Foundation as a reflection on the university, but the fact that A-State Athletics Director Terry Mohajir works closely with the foundation.

“There’s no doubt they’re running the foundation,” he said.

The A-State Athletics Department and the Red Wolves Foundation (RWF) work together in accordance with a memorandum of understanding signed by both parties in November 2013.

“To insure effective achievement of the terms of the agreement, ASU representatives and RWF representatives shall engage in open and continuing communication in alignment of priorities,” the memo states.

According to ASU System Vice President for Strategic Communications Jeff Hankins, Mohajir was authorized by the RWF board to execute contracts for the North End Zone project on behalf of the foundation.

Hankins also said that the decision to use Crestron equipment came after the original proposals for bidding were submitted. Sound Concepts, the company whose bid was accepted, is the only authorized Crestron installer.

“The Red Wolves Foundation is a private entity using private funds, so it is not subject to the university bidding process,” Hankins said.

“Since all this has taken place, there’s still some misleading information,” Fowler said. Ultimately, Fowler doesn’t know if the school will be able to repair their relations with the Fowler family.

“We are very grateful to the Fowler family for its support of Arkansas State University through the years,” Hankins said.

The RWF released a statement that they had reviewed the situation, and ultimately found no wrongdoing.

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