On December 7, 2011, Texas Tech and its alumni association will owe a group headed by Clayton Isom $414,000. The money is a lease payment on Raider Park, the parking garage next to the Marsha Sharp Freeway. The money is to be paid as part of a lease agreement between Texas Tech, its alumni association, and the owners of the garage. The owners are listed as Clayton Isom and Raider Park Limited Partnership. Clayton Isom is listed as the principal partner in the partnership.
Now, $414,000 dollars is a lot of money for Texas Tech and the alumni association to be on the hook for. Actually, that is only what they are on the hook for this year. They paid $440,000 last year in leasing fees for the parking garage. They are also expected to lose $1.2 million over the next couple of years. So far the venture has resulted in $854,000 in losses to Texas Tech and the alumni association. Donors to the alumni association probably thought their money was going toward helping the university. Instead a large chunk of that money is going primarily to a private citizen named Clayton Isom.
So who is Clayton Isom? He is a 29 year-old alumnus of Texas Tech and the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. His father is former alumni president Rex Isom, who also is an alumnus of Phi Delta Theta. Rex Isom was a member of the alumni board at the time his son was negotiating the deal to build the $25 million garage. Current Regent John Scovell, who is said to be the driving force behind driving this deal through, is also an alumnus of Phi Delta Theta. Dr. Bill Dean, another Phi Delta Theta alumnus was also in favor of the idea.
Dr. Dean was in favor of the parking garage even though Lubbock attorney and legal counsel for the alumni association, John Sims, advised Dr. Dean against it. In fact Mr. Sims is on record as saying the Raider Park deal is a failure. Raider Park has approximately 1000 parking spaces. 625 of those spaces are still unsold. This in a parking garage that Texas Tech said was clearly needed. There has been no evidence of that to this point.
What does seem evident is that a back room deal seems to have been cut for one of the Good Old Boys. Apparently if you have the right name, come from the right fraternity, and have a father that is a former alumni president then you can get a sweet deal for a mostly empty parking garage. Now where have we all heard the story of the son of someone getting special treatment at Texas Tech? This lease agreement was negotiated in December of 2009 and has cost Texas Tech a little over $800,000 since then. It must also be a coincidence that Texas Tech saved itself $800,000 dollars by also firing its former football coach in December of 2009, one day before his $800,000 bonus kicked in. That is another topic for another day.
It is time for Texas Governor Rick Perry to clean this mess up. The administration at Texas Tech, without whom this deal could not have happened, was appointed by Rick Perry. Apparently, these political appointees did not learn anything about risky investment from watching the Wall Street fiasco. The difference is that the administrators at Texas Tech are supposed to be doing the people’s business. After all, Texas Tech has claimed in court documents to be a part of the Texas government. How many professors could Texas Tech have hired or at least retained over the past couple of years with the $854,000 it has spent on empty parking spaces?
So, the next time Kent Hance or someone from Texas Tech starts talking about funding cuts, someone needs to remind them about Raider Park. That someone should be the Lubbock media. The only problem with that is that the Lubbock media has known about this Raider Park deal for a while now. The only media outlet that has shown an interest in fulfilling their duty to the public is the Daily Toreader. The rest of the Lubbock media has turned a blind eye, apparently too afraid of offending someone at Texas Tech.