On the last day before former President Bill Clinton left office in 2001, he issued 177 pardons and commutations to convicted criminals of seemingly all stripes. The resulting controversy was called "Pardongate" by many in the press. And while it lacks the seriousness and volume of Clinton's final presidential act, news that just hours before former UW President Mark Emmert quit his job to go to work for the NCAA, he handed his long time friend, the school's athletic director Scott Woodward, an unpublicized 5-year contract extension, does have that familiar Clinton smell.
No one is arguing the the man didn't deserve a new contract or even a raise. By all intents and purposes he's done a stellar job with UW's Athletics Department.
So why Emmert wanted to wait until his last day, then sneak his signature on the paperwork as if it was some back-alley purchase of a stolen Honda, seems bizarre.
Emmert, for his part, has tried to brush off the controversy as if he'd only just then got around to the matter, telling the Times: "I simply had not gotten around to getting it all written up."
The contract itself is good through June 30, 2015 and pays Woodward a base salary of $425,000 per year with $550,000 in total guaranteed compensation. It's essentially par-for-course among big university athletic directors.
So again, why Emmert (or anyone at UW) couldn't have just said as much? Perhaps there's a better reason than "I forgot until then."