UCF fires 4 administrators after misspending report released

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — University of Central Florida President Emeritus John Hitt has resigned, and four high-ranking university administrators have been fired over a scandal involving millions of dollars in building projects.

In 2018, the university was building new buildings with more than $80 million that was meant for other work.

During a meeting Friday, board members got their first look at an outside investigation into the misspending.

The report said Hitt likely did not know these building projects were being improperly paid for.

The same goes for the board of trustees, but the report said plenty of other people did.

University board members spent hours Friday afternoon going over a 63-page report that is critical of how UCF handles money.

One of the lawyers involved in investigating the university made it clear the financial issues span a series of projects and a number of years.

However, they're centered around the $38 million project to build Trevor Colbourn Hall on campus.

Records show the project was funded with state money that was never earmarked for construction and should have gone to things like curriculum for the students.

Leaders here are looking for changes because it took the state attorney general's office poking around in the university's finances to uncover the misspending.

The scandal already forced the resignation of former Chief Financial Officer Bill Merck.

When it comes to Hitt, investigators said he "was advised of the possibility that the funding for TCH might lead to an adverse audit finding, and that he directed Merck to go forward with the project anyway."

The names of the four employees being let go are Associate Vice President of Finance Tracy Clark, Associate Vice President of Facilities Lee Kernek, Associate Vice President of Debt and Revenue John Pittman and university Controller Christy Tant.

The board will be back next week, deciding what else to do to try to stop this from happening again.