Whose Benefit?

Scandal Casts Shadow Over Evening With Champions

A scandal over the handling of the finances of Evening With Champions, the student-run Eliot House ice skating charity, rocked the organization this summer and has made two of its former organizers the subject of a criminal inquiry.

Those organizers of the fall 1992 Evening With Champions show had promised the Jimmy Fund, a local cancer research charity, a donation of more than $100,000.

To make the pledge official, they'd held a ceremony at Eliot House where a commemorative check for more than $100,000 was presented to Jimmy Fund executive director Mike Andrews. No real money changed hands in May, but the organizers of the fall 1993 show, Jonathan S. Kolodner '94 and Kelly L. Morrison '94, were expected to deliver about $160,000 in real funds to the cancer charity when they took over from the fall 1992 organizers this summer.

But shortly after they took over responsibility for Evening With Champions bank accounts this summer, Kolodner and Morrison came to a disturbing conclusion.

The money--all $160,000--was gone.


When a student approached the administration alleging that David G. Sword '93, the treasurer of the ice skating show for the past two years, had admitted to taking some of the money, the Middlesex district attorney's office was contacted, according to a highly placed source and The Boston Globe. Harvard's attorneys were notified, and the department of internal audit identified the $160,000 as officially missing.

The district attorney is now conducting an investigation focusing on Sword and one of the 1992 co-chairs, Charles K. Lee '93. The probe, according to district attorney spokesperson Jill Reilly, is being treated as "a white collar crime case--the embezzlement or stealing of funds."

The investigation is expected to continue for a few months, even as Evening With Champions plans reforms of its organization and accounting practices. In addition, other student groups may choose--or be prompted by Harvard officials--to take a hard look at their own financial procedures in the wake of the scandal.

Although they won't talk publicly about the scandal, the two organizers' biggest fear is that news of the missing money--reported prominently in the New England media--could have a chilling effect on attendance and public support for this fall's show.

"This is a tragic and disheartening situation for us and for the other Eliot House volunteers, the Jimmy Fund and the many New England families who support this wonderfulevent each year," said Kolodner and Morrison, whoare cooperating with the district attorney'sinvestigation. "It is our hope that thistime-honored event will go forward as planned."

In recent weeks, however, Kolodner and Morrisonhave rallied support for the fall show. Olympicsilver medalist Paul Wylie '91, a former EliotHouse student, has agreed to perform. He will bejoined by Nancy Kerrigan, the 1993 American champ,and a number of prominent skaters.

CVS pharmacy, the chief corporate supporter ofthe show, has also renewed its support. And in aneffort to head off any future scandal, EveningWith Champions has established an OversightCommittee with representatives from Evening WithChampions, the Jimmy Fund and the Universityadministration.

Officials at the district attorney's office sayinvestigators are following a "paper trail," butcomments made by Lee during the summer cast doubton how successful such a chase will be.

In an interview with The Crimson, Lee said manyof the accounting books for Evening With Championshave been thrown away or are likely lost andunrecoverable. He also said Sword kept a milkcarton full of receipts that he believes are nowmissing.

"A lot of it was thrown out by me," Lee said."I don't think there's a necessity to keep it."

Lee also complained that he had not beennotified of any problems with the books beforeCollege officials and the district attorney werecontacted. Lee denied that any money had beenstolen. He said there was no gift to the JimmyFund this year because he used proceeds to pay offlongstanding debts and mounting expenses of theEvening With Champions.