Sports Law Blog
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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.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?