On September 27, Southwestern College vice president Nicholas Alioto organized a golf tournament for the Southwestern College Foundation. The tournament raised a great deal of money while utilizing the resources and prestige of the college — which receives funding from state and local taxpayers. This raises the question as to the propriety of the foundation taking large donations and using them for undisclosed purposes.
Earlier this year, people were surprised to learn that the Southwestern College Foundation funds political activities as well as student scholarships. In 2008, the foundation donated $75,000 to pass Proposition R, a bond measure for college construction and reconstruction.
In response to a public-records request in July regarding the foundation’s income and expenditures, the college responded, “Southwestern College Foundation is an independently organized and operated non-profit corporation.” Unlike the district, it is not subject to Public Records Act requests. Though the college provided some audits, details in terms of expenditures were not disclosed.
The program for the September 27 golf tournament contained a personal letter from Southwestern’s Alioto in his capacity as vice president of the college. Other print matter included a registration form offering “sponsorship opportunities.” At the bottom of the form, it’s indicated that people should make the checks out to the foundation — and send them to Alioto at Southwestern College. The tournament was held on a weekday and, according to an insider, six golf carts owned by the college were commandeered off the campus to the San Diego Country Club.
The event was sponsored by many of the companies that attended Alioto’s fundraiser for incumbent boardmembers — companies that have received lucrative contracts from the college. Echo Pacific Construction paid $10,000 for the “Welcome Package”; Seville Construction paid $10,000 to be the shirt sponsor; BCA architecture paid $10,000 to put on the dinner; Swinerton Builders covered the beverages for $7500, and so on. Prior to commencing, the golf tournament had picked up $65,500 in support.
A curious awards sponsor of the golf tournament was MVE Institutional, which does “Architectural, Planning and Interiors for Educational and Institutional Facilities,” according to their website. An advisor to MVE, Serafin Zasueta, was fired as president of the college in 2003. Three years later, he was sentenced in a San Diego court to probation for using school funds in a political campaign.
Walt Justice, a professor of health and athletics at Southwestern College, has organized or been the master of ceremonies for past events. About the golf tournament, Justice said, “No one on campus even knew there was a tournament going on.” Employees and faculty were not invited to the tournament.
Justice is pleased, however, because it is his understanding that $10,000 will come back to the Southwestern Athletic Department in exchange for the athletes who donated their labor to the tournament.
Southwestern College VP Alioto did not respond to numerous phone calls.