PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A nonprofit sports institute under investigation by state police sought $2.9 million in funding last fall while facing a state audit over how it spent a $575,000 legislative grant, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
In a proposal submitted to Gov. Lincoln Chafee in November, the Institute for International Sport offered to return the World Scholar-Athlete Games to Rhode Island in 2016 in exchange for a deal to provide annual grants of $400,000 between 2012 and 2015 and a $1.3 million grant during the year of the games. The proposal was among emails and letters provided by Chafee's office in response to a public records request from the AP.
The proposal said the funds could come from the state and that a portion could also be raised in the private sector as long as Chafee and his staff committed to raising money from corporations, foundations and wealthy individuals.
"This proposal will afford the State of Rhode Island with the opportunity to host a major international event that it can take pride in," the plan stated. The proposal also said economic development studies had found the games generated more than $3 million for the state in the past.
Further, the proposal said the institute would sponsor "momentum-building events," including annual Rhode Island Scholar-Athlete Games for schoolchildren from 2013 to 2015, and would arrange for regular appearances in the state by "international dignitaries."
The institute has been under investigation since a state audit found it could not account for how it spent most of a $575,000 legislative grant awarded in 2007 to construct a building on the University of Rhode Island campus, where its headquarters are located. The building is empty and has no heat, electricity or plumbing.
The same audit found that the institute owed URI nearly $381,000 in unreimbursed payroll costs and other expenses. URI says the debt was repaid earlier this month.
Acting Auditor General Dennis E. Hoyle began emailing institute founder Daniel E. Doyle Jr. about the audit in early September, according to emails released by his office.
As part of the pitch to Chafee, Doyle, of West Hartford, Conn., wrote that the nonprofit had sacrificed more than $3 million to stay in Rhode Island based on "promises made to us in 1999 and 2005."
The proposal said the New York-based charity The Atlantic Philanthropies gave $4 million to the institute in 2005, provided that Rhode Island match the funds, which the state agreed to do. The institute received more than $7.3 million from the state between 1988 and 2011, according to the auditor's office. The Atlantic Philanthropies has said the $4 million gift did not require matching funds and that Doyle has "mischaracterized much" about his relationship with the charity.
A message was left for Doyle on Friday. An institute spokeswoman said he had no comment.
Doyle's brother, Michael, said in an email that documents are being uncovered that "substantiate much of what my brother has said." Michael Doyle was the top aide to then-Gov. Edward DiPrete when Daniel Doyle started the institute with $40,000 from the state. He said they are waiting on a green light from lawyers to release the documents.
Daniel Doyle's attorney, Peter A. Biase, had no immediate comment. He has said he would not discuss the investigation with the media.
The proposal said the "Institute is indeed owed a significant sum of money from the State of Rhode Island," but later added its board of directors "has formally supported the notion of the Institute forgiving any past debt" provided a deal could be worked out, including holding the games in the state.
Spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said she does not know whether Chafee ever saw the proposal, which was drawn up after Doyle had two meeting with administration officials. One of those officials, former Chafee chief of staff Patrick A. Rogers, said Doyle did not mention the audit during their meeting. Chafee's office took no action on the proposal, Hunsinger said.
The World Scholar-Athlete Games were established in 1993 and became the institute's signature event. The games were held in Rhode Island up until last year, when they, along with a new event called the World Youth Peace Summit, were conducted at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
The Connecticut events faced financial problems. Philanthropist and former Hasbro Inc. CEO Alan Hassenfeld has said he paid the University of Hartford $500,000 to cover housing and food for the events after money from Connecticut did not come through. Hassenfeld has served as chairman of the games and says he wants to find a way to save them.
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