FORMER TENNIS COACH YASER ZAATINI COMMITTED FRAUD AND ABUSE OF MORE THAN 100-THOUSAND DOLLARS. GOOD EVENING, I’M SARA DIAMOND. JOSH SMITH HAS THE NIGHT OFF. E-T-S-U’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES LEARNED THE RESULTS OF THE UNIVERSITY’S AUDIT THIS MORNING. THE RESULTS COME THREE MONTHS AFTER ZAATINI ABRUPTLY RESIGNED, WITH NO EXPLANATION…AND PROMISED TO PAY BACK TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. PUBLIC RECORDS REVEALED AT THE TIME, ZAATINI SAID HIS RESIGNATION WAS – QUOTE: “NO ADMISSION OF MALFEASANCE.” BUT COMMUNITY WATCHDOG NATE MORABITO LEARNED THE UNIVERSITY’S AUDIT DETAILS REPORTED FRAUD AND ABUSE DATING BACK TO THE YEAR 20-10. E-T-S-U GAVE DISTRICT ATTORNEY TONY CLARK A COPY OF THE FINDINGS TODAY AND SUGGESTED FOUR LAWS THAT YASER ZAATINI MAY HAVE VIOLATED, INCLUDING THEFT, FORGERY AND OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT. CLARK TOLD ME THIS AFTERNOON HE HASN’T YET REVIEWED THE REPORT. WE HAVE…AND THE 37-PAGE DOCUMENT E-T-S-U GAVE US IS REVEALING…SUGGESTING ZAATINI OFTEN FORGED DOCUMENTS IN CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND HERE AT HOME. WHILE HIS PLAYERS WERE WELL ON THEIR WAY TO YET ANOTHER CONFERENCE TITLE…AUDITORS WERE ZEROING IN ON WHAT’S DESCRIBED AS A SOPHISTICATED SCHEME BY THEIR FORMER COACH TO COMMIT FRAUD AND ABUSE. “IT’S AN AUDIT THAT TELLS A STORY VERY DIFFERENT THAN THE STORY THAT MANY OF US HAD TO COME TO KNOW OF COACH COMMIT FRAUD AND ABUSE. (NOLAND 22:26:34) “IT’S AN AUDIT THAT TELLS A STORY VERY DIFFERENT THAN THE STORY THAT MANY OF US HAD TO COME TO KNOW OF COACH ZAATINI.” PROMPTED BY CONCERNS FROM STUDENT ATHLETES, AUDITORS BEGAN AN INVESTIGATION THAT IDENTIFIED $85,000 ALONE IN QUESTIONABLE COSTS DATING BACK TO 2010…INCLUDING WHAT THEY SAY ARE FORGED REGISTRATION AND STRINGING EXPENSES AS WELL AS TRAVEL AND MEAL EXPENSES. (GOLDEN 22:16:38) “A LITTLE BIT OVER TIME KIND OF ADDS UP TO A LOT.” AUDITORS ALSO SAID THE E-T-S-U HALL OF FAMER ABUSED THE UNIVERSITY’S VACATION POLICY AT A COST OF $20,000. (NOLAND 22:27:48) “IN ANY SITUATION THAT’S SAD AND UFNORTUNATE, SOMETHING GOOD CAN EMERGE AND I THINK THE GOOD THING IS WE’RE GOING TO MAKE THE UNIVERSITY MORE ACCOUNTABLE THAN WE WERE IN THE PAST.” ZAATINI HAS MAINTAINED FROM DAY ONE, HE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. IN A STATEMENT FROM HIS ATTORNEY, THE HALL OF FAMER SAID “HIS DETERMINATION TO FIELD CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER TEAMS MADE THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF SUCH A CHALLENGE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. YASER APPRECIATES THE SUPPORT OF THE EAST TENNESSEE STATE COMMUNITY AND AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME HE WILL FULLY EXPLAIN THE COACHING AND BUDGETARY DECISIONS HE MADE DURING HIS TENURE.” (GOLDEN 22:20:34) “IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT WENT TO THE PROGRAM TO MAKE IT COMPETITIVE, ONE COULD ARGUE IF ANYTHING IT TOOK MONEY FROM THE PROGRAM.” THIS ISN’T THE ONLY REVIEW OF THE SITUATION. THE AUDIT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN CONFIRMED THE TENNESSEE COMPTROLLER’S OFFICE IS IN THE MIDST OF AN INVESTIGATIVE AUDIT TOO. NATE MORABITO, NEWS CHANNEL 11, IN YOUR CORNER. THE UNIVERSITY HAS PROMISED RANDOM AUDITS OF ALL OF ITS COACHES FROM NOW ON, AS WELL AS A MORE DETAILED CHECKLIST WHEN REVIEWING COACH EXPENSES AND LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF CASH GOING FORWARD.

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Dennis Veasley

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