Winona State officials clarify investigation report

Zach Bailey

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Zach Bailey / Winonan

A $25,000 investigation concerning an incident with former Winona State University basketball coach Mike Leaf was addressed to the Winona State community in an email from President Scott Olson earlier this month. A private investigator was hired by the university to address the matter.

“I asked the investigator not to limit his inquiry to the facts of the complaint but also to pursue any other matters that came to his attention regarding the athletic department,” Olson wrote in the email.

Months later, the investigation ended, and a report was made, finding nothing more on the subject of inappropriate acts towards students. Though the investigation no negative details about the original complaint were revealed, the report said there were areas Winona State could still work on, including: improving procedures for how to handle payments for athletics camp employees, routine actions between human resources and supervisors, the Winona State Foundation continuing to review ways to be more transparent about employee-donated funds, and clarifying the employment status of graduate assistants and improving the appointment process.

Lori Mikl, director of Legal Affairs at Winona State, said she was unable to speak about this specific investigation, but did mention the process commonly followed when something of this caliber is brought up.

The process begins when a complaint is brought into the office. An investigation is then completed and a report is written. The report then goes to the decision makers, comprised of deans, vice presidents and other officials who are certified through Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, who make a determination of whether or not there has been a violation of either university or city code.

If a violation is determined to have been committed a recommendation for discipline is made. It is during this process when the report becomes a confidential document, due to the fact that it contains private information regarding employee(s) and/or student(s).

“The student data is protected by FERPA and the Minnesota Data Practices Act, and the employee data is protected by the Minnesota Data Practices Act as well,” Mikl said. “The Minnesota Data Practices Act is very specific regarding what type of data can and can’t be public about an employee.”

The real question running through most minds, is where did the $25,000 used to pay for the investigation come from?

Lori Reed, an employee in Winona State’s Human Resources department, said the money comes from the general fund at Winona State.

“I am unsure of where the money in the fund comes from, or how and what it is divided up for, but the fund pays for things that are needed throughout the university,” Reed said. “From here, the process will continue on to an executive summary.”

According to Olson, the general fund comes from multiple sources like tuition and state funds.