dgate1.gif(Updated since original post time)
I should probably start by recanting a statement I made regarding Duer-gate.

I previously reported that Duer-gate was a Double SWAC Scandal In the Making. Well, that was incorrect. The information I’ve received over the last 2 days indicates that Duer-gate is much more than a couple of unfortunate mishaps made by a sophomoric commissioner in Duer Sharp. Duer-gate is a series of disturbing and unethical occurrences created by a person who (as one source put it when describing Duer) operates on a basis of resentment and ego. There is just too much to report to limit this to just a 2-part report. Duer-gate is officially a TSPNsports.com mini-series.


While this “mini-series” may come off as humorous on the surface, let me assure you that this is no laughing matter. Let’s start by beginning where I left off from the first report.

Duer-gate2 (which I will explain in greater detail in next 24-48 hours) is a scandal that is still in formation and could potentially have legal implications. Not only does it involve the latest round of firings by Sharp, but involve the firings of other former SWAC staff members over the past 14 months. If the legal implications hold, the SWAC could face heavy financial penalties.

It’s important that we review the staff that was in place at the time former Commissioner Robert Vowels left the SWAC to go to the NCAA and compare that to the current SWAC staff under Duer Sharp. Here is the SWAC staff timeline: (Updated and corrected since orginial post time)

June 2007– Robert Vowels leaves for NCAA, Duer Sharp named interim commissioner effective June 15, 2007

Staffing at the time Vowels left

  • Cory Lima – Assistant Commissioner Championships (hired in 2003 – left on his own August, 2008 to become Coordinator of Membership Services at NCAA)
  • Jennifer Huggins – Assistant Director Championships (hired in July, 2005, promoted to Assistant Commissioner for Championships Aug, 2008 | fired January, 2009)
  • Markesha McWilliams – Assistant Commissioner/Sr. Women’s Administrator (hired in June, 2005 – fired July, 2007)
  • Pricilla Watson – Director of Finance (hired in July, 2005 – fired June, 2007)
  • Errica Lee – Assistant Director of Finance (hired in November, 2006 – fired June, 2008)
  • William Bright – Director of Media Relations (hired in July, 2005 – fired January, 2009)
  • Lataiya Barnes – Assistant Director of Media Relations (hired in October, 2006 – fired June, 2008)
  • Tracy Wright – Director of Marketing/Corporate Sponsorship (hired in Aug, 2006 – contract not renewed in June 2008)
  • Milton Taylor – Conference Liaison (still employed)
  • Chiara Morrow – Office Manager (hired in July 2003 – left on her own in September, 2007)

Staff as of December, 2008 (under Duer Sharp)

  • Kelly Brooks – Associate Commissioner (hired in July, 2008)
  • Ashley Robinson – Assistant Commissioner/Compliance (hired in July, 2008)
  • Duane Lewis – Assistant Commissioner/Communications (hired in July, 2008)
  • Deborah Vaughn – Director of Finance & Accounting (hired as interim beginning July, 2007, named director April, 2008 – fired January, 2009)
  • Nitra Babers – Finance Assistant (hired in Oct, 2008)
  • Eunice Elliott – Director of Branding/External Operations (hired in August, 2008
  • Jason Anderson – Branding & External Operations Assistant (not sure of hire date) – Left on his own in Fall of 2008.
  • Esha Hand – Office Manager/Student Services (hired in October, 2007)
  • Milton Taylor – Conference Liaison

Here are some interesting facts:
– Since December 2007, Duer has fired a total of 8 people from the SWAC office.
– Of the 8 people fired, 7 were women.
– 3 of the 8 people fired held positions that were related to finance.
– Milton Taylor is the only remaining hire from the Vowels administration.

So what’s my point? I am told that at least 2, and as many as 3, of the 7 women fired from the SWAC office either have (or are at least considering) filing complaints with the EEOC against the SWAC for gender discrimination and/or for creating a hostile work environment. It’s an issue that could hit the SWAC very hard financially if the claims are determined to be valid.

A Call Back From the SWAC

I finally got a call back from the SWAC office and spoke with Assistant Commissioner of Communications Duane Lewis. I asked him what he could tell me about the latest round of firings (regarding Bright, Huggins and Vaughn) in which he simply replied, ”The office decided to go in a different direction.”

OK, before I go any further…let me stop here.

With all due respect to Mr. Lewis (who was simply doing his job as a representative of the SWAC in talking to me) I have to ask Duer a question, after firing 8 different people over a period of a year and and half, how many different directions do you need to go with the people on your staff?  Surely, you realize that at some point that much office turnover (with an office of your size) becomes a reflection of you…not the people you hire.  Or do you?

Anyway, Mr. Lewis denied the firings were in retaliation to Duer learning that word got out that he changed the results of the SWAC Hall of Fame ballots.

When asked if there were any problems whatsoever associated with the Hall of Fame ballots in question, Lewis did admit that there was a “misunderstanding” regarding the eligibility of one of the nominees. He did not tell me who the nominee was, but added, “No ballots were changed in the process.”

My conversation with Mr. Lewis was very short and lasted for about a minute. After processing the answers Mr. Lewis fed me after hanging up the phone. More questions immediately came to mind regarding the ballots. If there really was a “misunderstanding” concerning the eligibility of one of the nominees, how does that person even make it on the ballot? How does this “misunderstanding” over eligibility become an issue AFTER the voting takes place? After years of Hall of Fame inductions, are the eligibility requirements that hard to follow?

To the SWAC Council of Presidents, James Frank or whoever is supposed to be investigating this matter, here is a tip for you. I am told that Duer changed the ballots submitted by current SWAC Hall of Famers Marino Casem (Alcorn State), Shirley Walker (Alcorn State) and Walter Reed (Jackson State). Maybe you can get in touch with them and ask if they gave Horace Crump the thumbs up to get in the HOF. How is that for a lead?

Next on Duer-gate…who is and who isn’t a SWAC sponsor?

Kenn Rashad
Founding Editor & Publisher of HBCU Sports and a graduate of Grambling State University.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting read…Keep the information flowiing…

  2. Good job!!!

  3. Your insight and investigation shows real journalistic understanding. The info is very much appreciated.

  4. Keep the good work up!!!

  5. I appreciate your comments. Thank you all.

  6. Keep your ear to the ground Kenn! Thanks for the updates.

  7. this is amazing,he seems like such a nice guy and all.

  8. Correction Ken: I’m Errica Lee not Erica. I was hired November 2006

  9. Thank you Errica for the information. The corrections have been made.

  10. Mr.Duer Sharp your day is coming you will be curse with a curse.The word says touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm.

  11. Kenn,

    Isn’t it time for another installment of Duer-Gate? I know you have some new news on this cracker jack commissioner? If you have ever had the “pleasure” of meeting Duer you know that he lacks any social grace and has the personally of a fruit fly. It’s pretty tough to be an effective commissioner when you don’t pocess leadership qualities.

  12. AD, Another installment will be posted by mid next week. Thanks for asking.

  13. Kenn,very interesting reading. Keep it coming.

  14. Kenn
    Very interesting. Make sure you are reporting not hanging. State the facts as you find them and keep it balanced as you find that.

  15. duergate strikes again! 2009-10 3 people fired and 2 people resign. All explanations for departure is due to “incompatibility”. Seems to me the that the staff is not the problem.

    Can somebody tell me when are the presidents finally going to wake up and rescue those folks at the conference office?

  16. […] we have discussed before…and again, nothing is as it seems on the surface when working with SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp; especially […]

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