MADISON (WKOW) -- 27 News uncovered the wife of UW-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alvarez provided a moped to a Badger football player, with the terms of the exchange of the vehicle unclear.
27 News discovered Cindy Alvarez's actions as it investigated the use of university scholarship funds by players to purchase mopeds and in some cases, cars.
UW-Madison associate athletic director Vince Sweeney acknowledged to 27 News a gift of something of the value of a moped from Alvarez to a player would constitute a violation of NCAA rules. But Sweeney said no rules were broken.
"That was a transaction that involved a sale of a moped," Sweeney said.
Jon Mortrud of Madison Scooters, a business in a warehouse setting on the city's southwest side, told 27 News he donated the red and white moped to Alvarez in 2007 so she could use it in a charitable auction to benefit the non-profit organization, Gilda's Club. Mortrud said Alvarez submitted the highest bid on the moped and took ownership of it, but did not have a need for the moped.
Mortrud recalled Alvarez provided the moped to a football player.
During the initial part of Mortrud's interview with 27 News, Motrud said he could not recall whether Alvarez sold the moped to the player, or gave it to the player as a gift.
When 27 News asked follow up questions about the transaction, Mortrud dropped any reference to a sale.
"She took the moped and gave it to a football player," Mortrud told 27 News. "Cindy gave the scooter away."
"She just didn't need it. She's pretty philanthropic."
Mortrud told 27 News he met the player who received the moped, but said he did not know his name.
"It was some young kid. I think he just needed transportation."
Sweeney declined to provide 27 News the name of the player who received the moped from Alvarez. Sweeney also declined a 27 News request for verification of the sale, such as a copy of the player's cancelled check.
"Our compliance folks are telling me that they've looked at the transaction and that they're satisfied that it was in compliance with all NCAA rules."
Wisconsin Department of Transportation records on such sales can be made available on request in certain circumstances, but privacy law bars the publication of the records.
While DOT records would reflect a purchaser's payment of sales tax and vehicle registration, any listed sales amount is self-reported and requires no documentation.
A source informed 27 News the player remains on the team.
Mortrud said the value of the 50 c.c. engine moped he donated to Alvarez was approximately $1,500.
Gilda's Club communications director Marcia Wittington told 27 News a Badger-style motorcycle adorned with player and celebrity signatures was auctioned off to benefit the organization in 2007. The organization's publicity on the auction listed the motorcycle's worth as $50,000. Wittington told 27 News she was unfamiliar with an auction of a moped, but said it could have occurred before her hiring in summer, 2007. Wittington has not returned repeated calls from 27 News for any information from organization records on proceeds from the auction of a moped.
While UW-Madison Athletic Department officials declined to provide any proof of the player's payment for the moped, 27 News uncovered some football players have used portions of their scholarship room and board subsidy to purchase mopeds. University records show the subsidy's monthly average for the current school year is $1,009.
Senior Jonathan Casillas told 27 News he and several other players scrimped on housing costs by sharing residences and bought mopeds.
"Some people got cars," Casillas told 27 News.
Athletic Department officials said a NCAA approved formula involving listed on-campus housing and food costs is used to establish the subsidy for room and board for full scholarship athletes living off campus. Officials said athletes receive four checks per school year and use the money as they see fit.