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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Nepotism and the Andy Roddick Foundation?

American tennis star Andy Roddick, who is ranked 6th on the ATP tour, has a charitable foundation called the Andy Roddick Foundation. It focuses on raising money for programs designed to treat abused children (specifically in the Southeastern Florida and Austin Texas), as well as raising money for programs that combat childhood diseases, childhood illiteracy, and truancy. This past weekend, the Foundation raised $1.4 million at an event in Boca Raton Florida which included a poker tournament Friday at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and a gala dinner and tennis tourney at Boca's Polo Club.

Sounds like the Foundation is successful at raising money, and lots of it.

But its management, which is comprised of volunteers and is directed by Roddick's mother, Blanche, has come under criticism in the Palm Beach Post for alleged incompetency. The basic contention is that Andy Roddick has unwittingly entrusted his charity to his mom and friends, and they don't know what they are doing:
According to former members, the organization is led by a sometimes-clueless, well-meaning volunteer board that usually yields to Roddick's my-way-or-the-highway mother, Blanche.

"They don't know what they're doing," said Brian Edwards, a Hollywood agent who resigned last year as director of celebrity development. "Blanche is extremely difficult. She and Andy are classless when it comes to dealing with celebrities. Believe me, I'm spreading the word." Edwards said incidents with celebrities over the years culminated in 2005 when two of his clients, whom he declined to name, waited six hours at a California airport for the plane to take them to Boca for the gala. He quit. "I suggested that we send them two gift baskets to apologize," Edwards said. "The total came to $733, but Andy has refused to pay. The bill still had not been paid two months ago. Real stars know. They aren't showing up because Andy and his mom have got delusions of grandeur when it comes to his star power, especially with their attitude."

The list of the personalities advertised for last weekend's event included former Dallas Cowboys star and dancing champ Emmitt Smith, former Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders, dirty celebutante Paris Hilton and New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. The names of actors Matt Damon and Russell Crowe were whispered in deep background. Who showed up: none of the above.

Those who paid up to $1,000 to play poker with big-deal celebs ended up with Paris' C-list sister, Nicky; the Dolphins' Jason Taylor; popster Mandy Moore; and tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

In fairness to the Foundation, the Palm Beach Post story, which perhaps revealingly does not have an author listed, is clearly one-sided against the Foundation and particularly against Blanche Roddick. I'm sure there are two sides to this story, and we only get quotes from people who have an ax to grind. Moreover, back in August, Fort Lauderdale Magazine named the Andy Roddick Foundation the best charity in South Florida. I don't know much about the award or the quality of competitors for it, but it suggests that the Foundation is doing something right.

But as a general issue, should charitable organizations of celebrities use family members to run them? I know nepotism is always a tricky subject, but perhaps it's something that celebrities want to avoid. After-all, Andy Roddick doesn't look particularly good when his foundation doesn't look good.

Then again, the following passage from Karyn R. Vanderwarren, Note: Financial Accountability in Charitable Organizations: Mandating an Audit Committee Function, 77 Chi.-Kent. L. Rev. 963, 966 (2002) might suggest otherwise, as it indicates that charitable organizations often lack the same degree of business/legal sophistication found in the for-profit world:
Charities often recruit nonprofit board members for their fundraising ability or prestige in the community rather than for their ability to lead the organization . . . [they] may lack corporate or legal expertise. Because charitable board members are generally not compensated and may lack expertise, they have little incentive to actively oversee the activities of the charitable organizations they serve.
So maybe the Andy Roddick Foundation's troubles--to extent they are accurately depicted by the media--have more to do with the nature of charitable organizations than anything else. Also, if the Foundation isn't very good, then couldn't contributors simply donate to other foundations--wouldn't the market for charitable contributions respond accordingly?


Excelent post and excelent final comment on the nature of Charities.

It is refreshing to discuss whether a Foundation is being well run, with its end and social purpose a given.

In other countries, charities held by athletes serve the dubious purpose of tax evasion. So this post is perhaps the reflexion of how well things are, by comparison to the rest of the world.

Blogger Luis Cassiano Neves -- 12/14/2006 5:32 AM  

"In other countries, charities held by athletes serve the dubious purpose of tax evasion."

LCN, this is exactly what the NCAA has become, in addition to its extended family of networks known as intercollegiate athletic departments which now (according to R.K.'s post) will (or should or might) hire a barrage of lawyers to protect their own legal interests.

Certainly, protecting non-profit status would be part of the college lawyer's job description in addition to drafting simple coaching contracts which could actually prevent college coaches and their agents from running the roost (to reflect M.Brand's concern).

Of course, using the word "nepotism" in the title of this article is not politically correct as it only refers to the male "species" which, too, is now under attack by the NCAA and the CWA for providing voluntary and free practice services for/with women's basketball teams in violation of title ix. Yes, we're talking about practice (A.I.).

No doubt this will be addressed in the title-ix blogspot and this sports law website will be accused of being insensitive to females, then a study will be done in central florida on racial injustices in sports law blogs and there will be a scorecard each year on it as well.

In the end, we can all blame Andy Roddick's mother.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 12/14/2006 7:58 AM  

I like this quote: "She and Andy are classless when it comes to dealing with celebrities."

Is "class" somehow dependent upon the recipient? Perhaps celebrities demand more class than us mortals.

Perhaps in this context "class" is a refined word for ass-kissing.

Blogger ChapelHeel -- 12/14/2006 6:08 PM  

Excellent post.

Thanks for showing us more sides to this issue. I read the source article earler and found myself cringing at the author's see-through agenda.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 12/15/2006 2:14 AM  

Thank you for these thoughtful comments, and I appreciate the kind words about the post.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 12/15/2006 12:17 PM  

wow, a lot of haters around today, i see. i wonder what everyone would say if it were someone like bono or oprah getting bashed by a no talent "reporter". if it were bono, who everyone knows is big on the whole charity thing, everyone woud be up in arms defending him...but becuz it's a young tennis player, they're all so quick to hp on the bandwagon. souds like i was right when i told a friend that most people are sheep, just following the herd. if u people were lemmings, u'd all be dead becuz u followed the first moron off the edge of the cliff.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 6/28/2007 2:41 PM  

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