Mike Ditka will get crucified today for the negligence over his Hall of Fame Assistance Trust. He dissolved it yesterday and gave out the $600,000 in the coffers after it was discovered the organization spent more than it distributed.
Ditka lent his name to the charity, which made sense because of his drive to boost the pensions of retired NFL players. But, in reality, he didn’t really know what was going on. Like the fact that it cost more than $715,000 to stage three golf tournaments over a three-year period.
The lesson here for athletes is don’t set up a charity just to say you have one. In fact, it’s better to give away money than have a charity if you don’t monitor it or are not really committed to it.
For every Lance Armstrong, Andre Agassi and Tiger Woods, there are three other athletes who don’t know what they are doing. This information is all public, so you’re better off not having a charity with a bad accountant.
In 2004, Warren Moon’s charity reportedly made $727 in contributions in 2004 and spent $1,027 to prepare the tax return. In 2005, the Magic Johnson Foundation gave out $301,984 in grants, but had $1,482,527 in expenses.
Athletes love to have golf tournaments and other events to appear to be big money raisers. But they should know that the donations are usually trumped by event organizing fees. In 1999, Tom Lehman's charity only raised 15 cents for every dollar at its charity golf tournament in Minneapolis. That's at least a double bogey.
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