The full board of directors of the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC) voted Tuesday morning to end its contract with Knox County. The contract will now expire June 30, 2012 instead of in 2016 as the agreement states.
The board made this move to allow contracts with Knox County and the City of Knoxville to be renegotiated at the same time.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has been saying for weeks that the county would not enter into talks with KTSC about the future unless KTSC ended its contract with the county before those discussions started.
Burchett's reasoning is that the organization has lost the public's trust in the wake of legal issues surfacing over former the employment contract for former KTSC President Gloria Ray.
After a somewhat tense discussion Tuesday morning, the board voted to comply with Burchett's request and end their contract with the county in three months.
"I felt like that it was in our best interest to have that act of good faith to agree with the terms and that should open the door to negotiations," said Board President Bo Connor.
Board members Michael Kelley and Ken Knight both voted against letting the contract run out now. They are concerned about protecting KTSC from collapsing because of lack of funding.
'My only real concern is that we have a contract and a contract is a contract, and where, as I understand that we as an organization need to make changes. I think we're gonna show we're willing to make those changes and we're even willing to renegotiate the existing contract. I just don't see why one has to precede the other," said Knight.
KTSC's Interim President Kim Bumpas told the board she has talked to the county, and there is no indication the agreement will not be renewed.
KTSC has already been in discussions with city leaders about their contract with the city. All indications from the county and from KTSC are that they will also begin contract negotiations as early as this week.
KTSC's board also agreed to work with an outside hiring firm to assist in the search for a new president. There was also some discussion over whether the board is too big. Any decision on changing the configuration of the board will be taken up by the governance committee.
One other note: the independent audit of KTSC's finances by Knoxville-based firm Pugh & Company begins on Monday, April 2. That process is expected to take several weeks.
In the mean time, KTSC is continuing its split from Sports Management, Incorporated (SMI). That is the non-profit Ray established to operate the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Bumpas told the board that since SMI extended its licensing agreement with Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Inc for the name "Women's Basketball Hall of Fame" and all of the artifacts in the museum, the museum will remain in Knoxville for at least the next three years. However, Bumpas stressed that there is a chance that the museum will have to move from its location near Downtown Knoxville. The County plans to sell that building, but they have put off the sale until more information is uncovered about fincances for both KTSC and SMI through the independent audit. SMI would like to put in a bid to buy the building. Bumpas said KTSC is not interested in purchasing it.
The next KTSC board meeting is scheduled for May 8, 2012 at 8am at KTSC's offices on South Gay St.
The Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation is continuing its transition this week.
This comes nearly two months after its board of directors forced former President Gloria Ray into retirement amidst legal issues surrounding her lucrative contract.
Monday afternoon, members of the nominating committee met for the first time.
They will recommend to the full board at a meeting Tuesday morning that those members serving in interim positions on the board's leadership remain in those spots until the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30.
There will be eight vacancies on the board at that time.
The nominating committee is holding off naming potential replacements until the board decides if it will make changes to its size, possible reducing it from 24 to 19 members.
"There have been discussions about the board being reduced in size, so really today, we're gonna wait and see whether there are things that to the board about reductions in size and then we will have to determine a process for filling the individual slots," said board member Mike Kelley.