The Alumnus Giveth and the Alumnus Taketh Away

Last year Kent State University alumnus Jason Cope announced he’d be giving a significant gift to his alma mater. He apparently planned to write a check for $1 million to the state university. In recognition, the school planned to name its basketball count after Cope.

And then Kent State announced Cope, a 1995 graduate, had changed his mind. According to an article by Karen Farkas in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

But last Friday the university, which had been aware of the investigation of Cope by the SEC, released a two-paragraph statement saying it had canceled the court naming.

“Due to unforeseen changes, Jason Cope has found it necessary at this time to withdraw his gift to the athletic department,” the statement said. “The university understands this decision and appreciates the Copes thinking enough of Kent State to consider their generous donation. We look forward to an opportunity in the future to engage them in the life of Kent State.”

Well the “changes” weren’t that unforeseen.

Reporters at the Daily Kent Stater, the school’s student newspaper, began to look into a 2001 Securities and Exchange Investigation of Cope and a firm where he formerly worked.

Cope, who owns several golf courses, was in the late 90s a branch manager in Pittsburgh for AC Financial Inc. The company apparently persuaded 190 people to invest millions for shares in companies that AC Financial actually had no power to sell.

The SEC determined that this constituted fraud. The SEC ordered Cope and three others to pay $19 million in penalties.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer