Concerts by Carrie Underwood and the Goo Goo Dolls at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City overdrew the university’s budget by nearly $230,000 – apparently because somebody looked at a computer screen wrong.
After the Bristol Herald Courier obtained the university records through a Freedom of Information Act, officials at ETSU said the mistake was caused by a chain of errors involving multiple departments.
"Someone misread a [computer] screen, and thought there was more money available than there really was," VP of finance and administration David Collins told the Bristol Herald Courier. "We’ve gone over again how to read the screen. It’s a new accounting system, and we’re all still learning."
The paper noted that the university hasn’t commented if any employees will be disciplined.
According to the university records, the price tag on the Carrie Underwood and Goo Goo Dolls concerts totaled approximately $862,000 – well more than double what the university spent on events the previous year.
The university’s accounting system has a feature that automatically rejects an expense when there aren’t revenues to cover it – but the feature wasn’t in effect.
"Effective July 1st, we will turn on that flag, which will kick anything out in the future," Collins said.
The overdrawn amount was covered by money borrowed from internal cash reserves but will have to be repaid when the student fees for the fall semester are submitted. After the outstanding charges are paid, if enrollment stays consistent, the event superfund will have less than $200,000 to cover next year’s events.
The Herald Courier reported that University officials are downplaying how the overspending will affect events next year, saying that the situation doesn’t necessarily rule out concerts. The VP of student affairs said more details will be offered after officials meet later this summer to discuss their options.
"We anticipate having concerts, but not on the scale of Carrie Underwood," said Joe Sherlin, dean of students in the Office of Student Affairs.