In June, when last we checked on Sally Roush, the scandal-plagued vice president of business and financial affairs at San Diego State University was retiring from her position after 30 years of university service. Her total pay in 2012, according to a database of state salaries posted online by the Sacramento Bee, was $301,957.
During the hands-off era of university president Stephen Weber, many academic insiders said she virtually ran the institution, parrying a bevy of sports scandals, buttering up the city’s wealthy male donors.
Some expected Roush to turn up in the business arms of John Moores, the mega-millionaire and ex-Padres owner with whom Roush was especially friendly, as documented by a February 1999 letter from Roush to Moores obtained under the state's public records act:
As you know, sometimes we have stretched our thinking and, heaven forbid, our administrative processes. But this is a good thing, and we enjoy the challenge of striving for new levels of accomplishment.
Your gifts and gentle guidance have been tremendously motivating. As always, if you would like a briefing on project status, or any issue at the University, please do call on me.”
Peregrine Systems — the company whose stock Moores made his seven-figure SDSU donations with — later tumbled into bankruptcy amid charges of stock fraud.
Besieged by scandal, Moores demanded his name be stripped from the university improvements that the stock sales had funded.
“Look, take my name off stuff. I don’t want my name used in affiliation with the university if it’s going to be a lightning rod for controversy,” then–Padres vice chairman Bob Vizas quoted Moores as saying.
That was just one of Roush's several scrapes with infamy here. Others included the case of David Ohton, SDSU football strength coach, who wrung a $2.7 million settlement from the university in February 2011.
In a lawsuit that cost taxpayers more than $1 million in legal expenses, the Union-Tribune reported, Ohton’s attorneys charged that Roush had covered up alleged excessive drinking by head coach Tom Craft to avoid yet another public scandal in the university’s troubled athletic department.
And then there was the Jeff Schemmel controversy.
He was hired by the university as athletic director in July 2005 despite a thousand-page investigation by the University of Minnesota fingering the former U of Minn administrator in a big academic fraud case.
“We were very thorough in the whole matter,” Roush told the Union-Tribune. “I think what made the difference for me was my discussion with Jeff — his personality, his genuineness, his commitment to compliance, and how he handled the [Minnesota situation] once it happened.”
Four years later, Schemmel departed SDSU under a cloud after allegations came to light that he had used taxpayer funds to pay a visit to his mistress in Alabama.
SDSU president Weber announced that as a parting gift the university would forgive Schemmel’s $20,000 home loan, pay $116,000 in settlement fees, and write a letter of recommendation for him.
Schemmel subsequently went to work for Moores as managing director of JMI Sports LLC, a consulting outfit that some saw as a likely post-SDSU landing pad for pensioner Roush as well.
Instead, she has turned up even closer to home, as a top aide to California State University chancellor Timothy P. White.
Last month, university trustees voted without discussion to hire Roush for an annual salary of $270,000 as the system’s interim vice chancellor for business and finance.
She will serve until a permanent replacement is found for Benjamin F. Quillian, who is retiring as executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer. No time frame was estimated to obtain a new recruit.
Additional financial sweeteners of Roush's tenure, including a handsome hourly pay rate through the end of this year, were described in the board package:
For the first two months of her appointment (November and December) Ms. Roush will be available as needed to conduct University business and will be paid for hours worked at the rate of $130 per hour.
Beginning in January, and as a condition of her employment, she will be required to work in the Chancellor’s Office three days a week. The remaining two days of the week, she will work remotely from her headquarters in San Diego.
Effective January 1, 2014, and in accord with existing policy, Ms. Roush will receive a vehicle allowance of $1,000 per month.
Taxpayers won't be on the hook for Roush's health insurance, according to the document, because "as a rehired annuitant of the California State University, Ms. Roush’s health benefits are provided for by CalPERS."
"The proposed salary is appropriate to Sally's experience and the level of trust we are placing in her," White, who touted Roush's long fundraising experience in San Diego, told the trustees before the vote.
"It also acknowledges the interim nature of the position and is less than the current incumbent earns. In the meantime, Sally will receive an hourly payment for the time she spends with Ben engaged in the transfer of institutional knowledge"
Reached by phone today, a CSU spokesman said Roush is not barred by the terms of her new job from collecting her SDSU pension, but said he didn't know how much it was.