When current University of Maine Alumni Association President John Diamond took an administrative role at UMaine, his friend Alan Miller gave him some advice that would serve him well later on.
“It’s important to do everything you can to make sure the university and its leaders do the right thing and they get caught doing it,” Miller said.
Diamond ended up leaving UMaine for a job as the University of Arkansas’ chief media relations officer, the subject of his new book, “Please Delete.” His time in Arkansas ended abruptly following a cover-up of mismanaged money that he refused to participate in.
Arkansas, a wealthy school that has no difficulty raising money from donors and proud athletic tradition, found itself in a controversy when it was revealed that a budget manager had been mismanaging the budget and covering it up. When the chancellor of the university found out, the budget manager was transferred and the scandal swept under the rug.
It wasn’t until rumors started to leak to the media that the university was forced to address the issue, at which time they refused to answer questions on the topic and attempted to let it blow by. The media firestorm ended up national news, with an audit and the FBI getting involved.
Diamond was let go in a text message in August of 2013 after his opposition to the handling of the situation became an issue. He got the inspiration for “Please Delete” after researching for a possible lawsuit.
“I realized when I was finding stuff, ‘holy cow, here’s the rest of the story,” Diamond said. “This is what they were doing. They were hiding the complicity of the people at the very top.”
There was a lot more to the story that he had realized before he started going through the many boxes of court documents that he obtained, in which he found strike-outs through important details. The strike-outs that he found were the inspiration for the cover of his book.
“I had boxes of stuff,” he said. “I went through it and said to myself, ‘it made no sense.’”
While many senior officials were never implicated as having a part in the scandal, what Diamond calls the “institutional hubris” of the system provides a theme for both his time there and the book.
Diamond also won a national award for crisis management for his role in the firing of Bobby Petrino, a famous football coach who the University of Arkansas had to fire after he lied about a motorcycle accident. Diamond wrote the press release announcing Diamond’s firing.
“We had one foundation give a million dollars donation in [athletic director] Jeff Long’s name for having the courage to do that,” Diamond said. “Another gave a quarter of a million dollars for that. He got national praise for doing the right thing when a lot of people weren’t.”
“Please Delete” can be purchased online at Amazon.com and will soon be sold in Barnes and Noble.