[asusig] Update on ASU Negotiations and other stuff... Thu, 21 Nov 2002

It has been a while since I sent out an update but after the Alpha Drive Association meeting this evening I wanted to send out a quick note with the current news and gossip to let you all know what the current state of affairs is.

As you know, we (and all but one of the Houses) closed on the sale of our properties last month. The one House that has not closed yet is SAE and they have an extension until the end of January 2003. ASU told us leading up to our closing that they would be seeking to buy our houses back so that the row can be raised and something else built on it. ASU keeps saying either High density student housing, admin offices or Football/athletic fields. The "inside" word we got tonight is that they are wanting it to be athletic fields because the Football players are tired of walking the extra hundred yards to use the existing fields.

We got a letter this last week from Mernoy Harrison (the ASU VP in charge of "dealing" with us) in which he said that we either deal with them and move to the medium security prison complex to be built on the south-side of campus or they will use condemnation to take our houses from us and leave us with no place to relocate. Ok... he did not "really" say prison complex but if you look at what they have built down there for the Sororities you would be hard pressed to describe the appearance any other way.

They are planning this in three phases. The first was the relocation of the girls to be followed by old Row moving January 2004 and Alpha Drive moving January 2005. To let you know we, the Alpha Drive Association, will be retaining a condemnation attorney to fight this. The attorney we will be hiring has a great reputation in this field as a real SOB. In doing our due diligence on him we found out that he represented many of the landowners that were displaced when the BankOne Ballpark was built. According to the Sig that did the checking on him Rich Dozier of the Diamondbacks can not say this guys name without spitting. The Diamondbacks offered these landowners $900k in condemnation and planned on a worse case of having to pay $2 million. Well, the Diamondbacks ended up forking over $7 million! Sounds like this is the guy for us if he have any hope of stopping ASU or at least being reasonably compensated for our properties.

Speaking of spitting the other night the ASU Foundation had a Board meeting. This Board is made up of a small group of about 25 very influential Alums, many of whom are Greek. A little birdie told me that when the meeting was opened up for questions the very first question came from a SigEp Alum who asked what was happening down at Alpha Drive because what he had heard was not pleasing to him. According to our little birdie ASU's new President Michael Crow had a complete "melt-down" and started accusing us of lying about the University and its intentions and threatening it with lawsuits. President Crow then went on to accuse us of refusing to meet with him. To actually refuse to meet with him of course would mean that we had actually been invited to meet. Thus far such an invitation has not been forthcoming however, Chris Ward the Association President will be calling Crow to see if we can actually set up a meeting.

Additionally our little birdie informs us that when Grady Gammage came to our defense by pointing out that we had done none of the things that Crow was accusing us of and that maybe the University needed to try and look at things from our perspective that Crow unloaded on him too by threatening to fire him from his legal representation.

I also found out that Mernoy has now personally confirmed that when Crow first arrived on campus that one of the very first things he told Mernoy was to tear down Fraternity Row.

Plus, I was told that I have now replaced Boyd Heckle from SigEp as the most hated Fraternity Alum by this Administration because of my ability to communicate with the 1000+ alums that this email reaches. I was also told that ASU would like me to muzzle myself. Well, I just can't do that. The House Corp By-laws say the purpose of the organization as outlined in the first paragraph is to whit "...to advise and cooperate with the active chapter in all matters pertaining to the welfare of the chapter, to establish and maintain a journal for the purpose of disseminating useful information among the alumni, to buy, own, hold, lease, sell and convey such real or personal property as may be necessary or desirable..." These email messages perform the task of getting information out to the Alums and as long as it is my duty it will be carried out. I don't know any other way to exercise the responsibilities given to me.

Obviously if little ole me is getting under their skin it is due to you the Alums making rumbles that ASU is starting to hear and now react too. Keep it up because only by letting our voice and dollars be heard will we get ASU's attention on this matter.

On the subject of how ASU intends to fund the purchase of our properties they have said that the money will not be coming from the Legislature (no duh...) and that the money will not be coming from the ASU Foundation. They did say that just because it is not coming from the Legislature does not mean that it will not be "State" money. Now does that mean ASU will use some Grant money? Don't know, but maybe some members of the Legislature would be interested if that is indeed the plan.

Just doing some simple math with conservative replacement cost numbers it looks like it may cost ASU easily over $20 million dollars to buy us all out. When the University is talking about raising tuition for in-state students by 44% in this current economic climate it sure seems foolish to be expending that kind of money as well as the legal expenses by having retained an Attorney (Gary Birnbaum sp?) to do the condemnation work against us.

I also hear that when Crow was coming back from the USC game where ASU got beat that he commented that he would like ASU's homecoming to be as big as USC's was. He was told something I am sure he did not want to hear. Get the Greeks involved. Maybe he is going to start to realize that not only do Greeks have higher GPAs than the rest of the general student body, graduate a higher percentage of their members compared to the general student body, contribute a disproportionate share of the charitable giving that the University receives and that we provide a natural venue to facilitate continued involvement after graduation too. The only place where we are not contributing our share (and this is a good thing) is to discipline and other "problems" requiring police and/or administration involvment despite what the "conventional wisdom" would lead you to believe. Just goes to show the two-edged sword that our visibility brings to us.

But than again maybe his Greek bias (remember, he said he threw away his invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa rather than join a "Greek" organization) and anger at us will not allow him to see the forest.

Here is hoping that we can actually sit down with him and work this situation out.