Tulsa fires athletic director week after he was named in federal gambling investigation
TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley was fired Tuesday, a week after he was named in a federal investigation of a man accused of running a gambling operation in Oklahoma City.
Tulsa President Steadman Upham released a letter to students and faculty of the private university Tuesday night, saying Parmley “admitted he had not been truthful” about his role in the mess when he told him in October 2011 that he was cooperating in an FBI investigation.
Parmley was publicly linked last month with the investigation into Teddy Mitchell. In recently unsealed court documents, Parmley is described as an “admitted gambler with Mitchell.”
Mitchell is scheduled for trial in April.
Upham said Parmley told him last year he wasn’t personally involved in the root of the investigation.
“At that time, Ross told me that his involvement was solely due to a family connection to the person being investigated,” Upham said in the letter.
That conversation took place when Parmley was still interim athletic director. He became athletic director in January despite the investigation, which has since drawn the attention of the NCAA.
The university says it is cooperating with the NCAA probe.
A lawyer for Parmley didn’t immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment. After Parmley was placed on leave, his attorney, Derek Chance, said Parmley was cooperating with investigators and that he wasn’t a target of the FBI.
Upham says he discussed with Parmley the scope of his involvement in any gambling.
“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,” Upham said.
The 39-year-old Parmley was placed on administrative leave Nov. 27.
“On Tuesday, Nov. 27, while I was out of the country, Ross admitted he had not been truthful in our 2011 conversation,” Parmley said. “He was immediately put on administrative leave and, at my direction, TU notified the NCAA. We subsequently launched our own internal investigation.”
Upham said the school 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.”
Upham noted that he and his wife are on a trip through South America, but pledged to remain in close contact with administrators, university trustees and the NCAA.
Upham served as Tulsa’s president for eight years before retiring June 30 and accepting a teaching position at the university. He retook the helm in October after trustees fired Geoffrey Orsak.
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