After three-and-a-half years, GPC’s former president has received a full exoneration for the issues which resulted in his contract non-renewal after nearly 6 years of service as Georgia Perimeter College’s chief administrator.  Of this issue, Dr. Tricoli said from the beginning that he was misled about budget numbers by the college’s Executive Vice President and the former Budget Manager (who went on to take a budget leadership position with Chattahoochee Technical College).

The organization known as the Georgia Watchdogs conducted a through review of all documents presented to the court.  They also reviewed many other documents which included the USG’s own internal audit report which was completed on 9/17/2012 although not widely disbursed to the public.  “It was not possible to have read all these documents and not to have come to this conclusion,” said Sabrina Smith of the Georgia Watchdogs organization.  “It was perfectly clear to all of us that Anthony Tricoli had absolutely nothing to do with the college’s shortfall,” said Smith.  In fact, and as was also said by Georgia State Legislator Karla Drenner, “Anthony Tricoli was the USG’s scapegoat.”  “The USG’s poor budget oversight processes surfaced time and time again in our review,” said Smith.

What’s clear about this $16.5m deficit is that nearly $7 million of it was caused in the Office of Human Resources which is managed by a HR Director.  The HR Director stated that this was an error due to a miscalculation of fringe benefits.  The USG reported in this 2012 audit that every employee’s fringe benefits numbers with incorrect.  This is not something about which the college president could ever have know unless it had been reported to him, which the USG audit did associate to Dr. Tricoli.  The remaining $9 million is still missing according to the audit report.  However, the USG indicated that it was not their plan to identify where $9 million went missing so they weren’t going looking for that missing money.  It should also be noted that the college president was only days away from removing the HR Manager from his position.

Again and again in the audit report and in other documents it became obvious that the budgets presented to the college president were false, untrue, and misrepresentations of fact.  What also jumped out at anyone who reviews the documents of this case is that the USG changed procedures and policies as soon as 30 days after Dr. Tricoli left office.  These changes gave the appearance that if USG policies had been followed by the college that all would have been well.  Unfortunately, the policy changes came “after” the GPC issue occurred.

In one situation during 2009, the USG changed a policy which resulted in the removal of college presidents from discussion between college and system staff about the college’s budget, in particular as referred to removing funds from the college’s reserve fund.  Then as soon as GPC’s$19 million reserve budget was depleted, the USG reversed that policy, this time requiring college president’s to be informed and involved in situations where the college reserve budget was being reduced or depleted.  The timing all looks very suspect.

The Georgia Watchdogs has done a very thorough review of theGPC/USG/Tricoli case, and they have reached a conclusion that not only makes sense, but one which may result in massive changes which are obviously needed in the University System of Georgia.

Former Chancellor Erroll Davis was running the USG during 90% of Dr.Tricoli’s contract as GPC’s president.  About Dr. Tricoli, Chancellor Davis said, “Dr. Tricoli’s leadership in doubling the college’s enrollment in five years and in building the reserves to $19 million dollars secured the college’s fiscal solvency though his tenure and beyond.  It is clear that Dr. Tricoli did what he was supposed to do as a leader and exercised the appropriate level of fiscal oversight and diligence. Unfortunately, we live in an era of misinformation communicated via the Internet along with the view that you are guilty until proven innocent.  It was unfortunate that this had to occur to a college president who has always acted quickly, and transparently to eliminate any problem which crossed his desk.  Anthony Tricoli did a wonderful job of leading his institution.  The USG’s new agenda to merge several institutions in order to reduce state expenditures was the precipice for Dr. Tricoli’s contract non-renewal; and in fact GPC was ultimately merged under Georgia State University.”

Davis concluded, “If I was given the opportunity to hire Anthony Tricoli to lead an institution of higher education or otherwise, I would not hesitate for a moment to make that offer of employment again.  Dr. Tricoli possesses the skills, abilities, attributes and experience to lead at the highest level.  He is a man of integrity, strong moral conviction and ethical character and behavior.  I was pleased to have him as a member of the leadership team while I was the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia. ”

We conclude by saying that full exoneration is certainly deserved, but in our opinion its not enough for this man whose career has received irreparable damage by intentional and criminal acts against him.  We hope Dr. Tricoli lands the job at a college that deserves his ability and skill in leadership, and we hope he is compensated handsomely by the USG for his lost wages and the pain he must have endured the past three-and-a-half years.

Read full exoneration on Georgia Watchdog website as a PDF here.

By Alan Wood

Musings of an unabashed and unapologetic liberal deep in the heart of a Red State. Crusader against obscurantism. Optimistic curmudgeon, snark jockey, lovably opinionated purveyor of wisdom and truth. Multi-lingual world traveler and part-time irreverent philosopher who dabbles in writing, political analysis, and social commentary. Attempting to provide some sanity and clarity to complex issues with a dash of sardonic wit and humor. Thanks for visiting!

36 thoughts on “Dr. Anthony Tricoli exonerated by Georgia Watchdogs”
  1. Dr. Tricoli certainly deserves to have his reputation restored. I worked with him at GPC for five years, and he is an ethical man and was an outstanding college president who put students first. He supported faculty and staff in their work helping students. He was always open to our suggestions, and completely transparent on all issues. You can take his word to the bank. I am very happy he has been exonerated.

  2. Dr. Tricoli did a wonderful job as our president. The proof is in the pudding and in the emails. Dr. Tricoli ran a good ship as Chancellor Davis indicated. The budget team at GPC lied to him and to all of us at the college. The exoneration received by Tricoli was accurate as proved by the many documents received by the court from Dr. Tricoli’s attorney. I am glad to see his exoneration.

  3. Congratulations to Dr. Tricoli!! Sometimes the good guys do win! Falsification of budget documents to a college president is a criminal act, I hope the Attorney General will go after these common criminals wearing three-piece suits. KUDOS to Dr. Tricoli for having the backbone and tenacity to hang in there.

    1. The University System of Georgia is beyond corrupt. Several state legislators agree with Representative Drenner. She had the guts to speak out. Her comments about the USG’s internal budget management waeknesses were on point. Several of he USG’s presidents lost their jobs due to the USG’s screw-ups. Tricoli was absolutely a scapegoat, too bad because he was a very good president.

  4. I’m very pleased Dr. Tricoli has been vindicated in all of this. Is the USG going to be forced to give him his job back? Does he still even want to work in the USG again? Will AG Olens finally prosecute those who committed crimes against the state? Lots of questions – the important thing today is the exoneration of Dr. Tricoli. We must now press for a change in Georgia’s archaic Sovereign Immunity laws. Thanks to Dr. Tricoli for his leadership.

  5. The Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) attempt to destroy the exemplary career and integrity of Dr. Anthony Tricoli has, sadly, become the norm and acceptable by our top state elected officials – with Governor Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens at the helm. As a former USG personnel for fifteen years in the Office of a USG college president (now Middle Georgia State University) and Georgia Whistleblower since 2009 – following the loss of my position just nine days following my refusal to falsify documents for the USG president – I know firsthand. The criminal, fiscal and ethical malfeasance by our state’s higher education officials – further detailed by Dr. Tricoli, his attorney, Stephen Humphreys, and Sabrina Smith, Georgia Watchdogs – is among the reasons why the BOR are commonly known throughout thirty campuses and educational forums as “The Untouchables”…”The Southern Mafia.” I commend Dr. Tricoli for his perseverance and determination to be the voice of so many USG faculty and staff who fear if they speak up, they, too, will lose their higher education careers. Attorney General Sam Olens clearly does not represent ethical and law-abiding Georgians like Dr. Tricoli as legal record shows AG Sam Olens “cannot handle the truth” sitting right in front of him at his desk – much of which he fights to keep sealed from public view in Protective Orders!

  6. It’s About Time! The thing that gets me is… How in the heck do these folks in Georgia get away with this kind of corruption? I have been following this story since David Schick, the journalist/reporter at GPC, blew the lid off this. OMG…as soon as David Schick asked for records and emails (via the open records request) to prove Dr. Tricoli’s innocence, the administration at GPC stonewalled him and then they increased the price per page so this starving student couldn’t get access to the records. Then, to make matters even worse, the Interim President (Rob Watts) issued an inter-office memo to change the records retention requirement (so they could purge the data). Holly crap… Can you spell C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N? This is a crime committed by the good-ole boys, led by Sam Olens. Good thing Dr. Tricoli was exonerated – but it is still a shame that he had to go through what it did! Some lucky college will pick him up and I am sure he will pick up right where he left off – with many impressive accomplishments. You go Dr. Tricoli – the students of GPC wish you the best – just wish you were still our President! Thank goodness for organizations like the Georgia Watchdogs who fight for what is right and back those who were done wrong!

  7. Tricolli didn’t do anything wrong, read the documents submitted to the court by his attorney, it was the budget staff who maintained two sets of budget books and then lied to the president and the college about the budget over and over again. Worse yet, the USG budget people knew this too and they also kept the facts from Tricolli; read the USG audit report, its all in there. Tricolli never needed exoneration because he did nothing wrong.

    The USG and Attorney General owes Tricolli an appology (and probably some back pay and damages) and they should prosecute those who committed the crimes. Its crazy that this is still going on after three years.

  8. Great article! It does not focus on one very important point however. The new Chancellor got his marching orders to merge as many colleges as possible. GPC was on the USG hit list to be merged with either Georgia State University or Kennesaw. There was also talk early on to split the college several ways. The biggest stumbling block in the way with either of these plans was Tricoli. The BOR needed this popular and successful president out of their way in order for any merger to occur smoothly. The USG painted a “budget fiasco” picture (all BS) and sold it to the papers in order to get rid of Tricoli. The papers printed the articles and nobody came to Tricoli’s rescue because they all read that he ignored the “signs”, and the merger happened without incident. Tricoli was a scapegoat.

  9. Georgia Exonerates Tricoli! This is well overdue. Now, I hope the courts do not allow those who provided him with false budget to get off with soverign immunity because they are state officials. Sovereign Immunity should not protect any state official from criminal actions. Put them in jail for their crimes.

  10. I’m glad Georgia Watchdogs did their homework and shared this information. Misinformation and inaccurate budget data presented to a CEO of any organization is unforgivable. If it was intentional they should definitely be prosecuted regardless of the sovereign immunity laws. The president should be reinstated.

  11. I agree with others who have posted, Dr. Tricoli should have been exonerated long ago. From the perspective of a budget guy who works at a university, the budget people at GPC lied to him, no doubt about it, period. So much information out there now makes it obvious that he’s been telling the truth from the start. He is a good guy that got hurt by the very system which should have supported and protected him. This has all been shameful, and is a big black eye for our state and our educational system.

  12. Chancellor Davis said he wouldn’t hesitate to hire Dr. Tricoli again, I’d like to see that happen. Remove the corrupt leaders from the USG and put Tricoli in charge! The quotes from former chancellor paint a vivid picture of the truth. I respect Davis, and I trust in his judgement regarding Dr. Tricoli’s leadership. Full exoneration is validated by Davis’s comments about Tricoli. If anyone needs further validation I suggest they read the USG’s Audit Report which states over and over that Tricoli received false and misleading budget reports. That’s all.

  13. This is why Tricoli has been exonerated, and its why he will win in court too.

    Straight out of the USG Final Audit dated 9/17/2012:

    “It is clear from our review that GPC’s CBO did not provide GPC’s President with timely and reliable financial information for the President’s use in managing the institution.”

    “GPC’s CBO did not perform his assigned duties. GPC’s former CBO, per his job description, is the “chief financial officer of the college, responsible to the President for providing leadership and ensuring integrity, stability and excellence in the fiscal and administrative operations of the institution.” He is to establish a “sound, stable financial base and adequate physical resources that support the mission and scope of programs and services of the institution.” Further, the CBO is to “develop and administer the college budgets, financial strategic planning, and administrative program assessment to maximize the most efficient and effective use of resources.” However, GPC’s former CBO indicated that he did not review GPC’s financial statements and that he essentially relied on the Budget Director and AVP to bring budget-related fiscal issues to his attention. We agree that he was responsible for the institution’s fiscal operations in the overall context of his accountability to the former President.”

    “…….essentially every primary duty of the Budget Director was left unfulfilled.” He [Budget Director] also stated in an affidavit signed for former President Tricoli that he did not believe there were any budget deficits and that he never brought concerns about budget deficits to the attention of the former President.”

    “A significant inaccuracy regarding personal services was budgeting of fringe benefits. GPC understated the fringe benefits that corresponded with each employee on the payroll. This understatement has been estimated at $6.7 million.”

    “GPC’s former fiscal leadership team relied on inaccurate, internally generated spreadsheets that did not correspond to the General Ledger. Specifically, it appears that members of GPC’s cabinet, to include the former President, and both the President’s Council and the Strategic Budget Committee were provided incomplete and inaccurate budget presentations made by the CBO and the Budget Director at various group meetings. The CBO relied on budget spreadsheets developed by the Budget Director. We found three such presentations for FY 10, 11, and 12 and noted that presentations were not representative of GPC’s financial condition.”

    In addition to all of this, multiple budgets were found in the top drawer of the desk of the former GPC Budget Director. The college president was provided with false and misleading budget data, and this is why he has been exonerated in Georgia.

    1. This is an excellent explaination of the facts in this case. Thank you for sharing with us what the press has not. I knew there were two sides to this story. His exoneration has been long awaited by the college staff and the communuity alike. Press forward Dr. T!

  14. Stop and think about what really happened – state officials conspired to ruin a man’s career and professional reputation. Dr. Tricoli showed tremendous resolve in standing up to the criminals who perpetrated this nightmarish scheme. Thank you Georgia Watchdogs for your help in exposing these terrible acts of injustice.

  15. 1) This case is currently before the Court of Appeals, it is far from over; 2) The Georgia Watchdogs is among the largest, most active, and most influential and respected of all government watchdog organizations in the South, they are a conglomerate of many groups and respected leaders throughout the South including Georgia; 3) Dr. Tricoli was a victim of corrupt people in the USG; 4) The Georgia Watchdogs reviewed thousands of documents, audits, and reports, and they have shared with all of us what everyone suspected to be true, Dr. Tricoli was the scapegoat for a plan to merge GPC under Georgia State University; 5) Dr. Tricoli stood firm against USG’s cronies and in support of GPC’s students to get an affordable education; 6) Dr. Tricoli received a full and complete exoneration as he should have, and no one can argue with the fact he deserved a full exoneration. Finally, Dr. Tricoli has stood firm against a corrupt government which lied, changed policies, falsified state budgets, told the court he never had a contract for employment, and committed fraud multiple times over. This man deserves the support of everyone of us as his case now moves forward to change the laws of sovereign immunity. In my opinion, Dr. Tricoli has already won this case, not for himself, but for you and I. This case has already shed the light upon a corrupt state government, and this will hopefully lead to a desparately needed change in the laws of sovereign immunity which currently protect state employees who commit crimes and have been able to hide behind these archaic laws in Georgia. In the eye of public opinion Dr. Tricoli has already won this case for all of us. Many thanks and appreciation to Dr. Tricoli for having the fortitude and determination to not give in to corruption.

  16. I have had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Tricoli for over 8 years. As a former student body president of Georgia Perimeter College, I have a unique perspective of Dr. Tricoli both personally and professionally.

    Personally, I consider him a leader, mentor, and friend. Although I was granted more personal time with Dr. Tricoli than most students, he never showed me unfair favoritism. I deeply respect him because of his honesty and fairness. In fact, I would see him frequently taking time out of his busy schedule to mingle with students, not for the purpose of being seen, but because he genuinely cared. Most importantly, he listened more than he spoke. He never sought praise for himself. In turn, he became a voice for the voiceless. He always made himself available, often times at his own home, meeting with students, faculty, and staff to celebrate other’s accomplishments and boost morale. The reason he makes such a great leader is that unlike many of today’s so-called leaders, Dr. Tricoli is worth emulating. In my opinion, he is the epitome of a servant leader.

    Professionally, Dr. Tricoli played an important role in the development of my character, work ethic, and willingness to serve others, despite difficult circumstances, objections, and even physical exhaustion. His drive to serve faculty and staff is only outweighed by his commitment to see each and every willing student succeed. I was one of those students. I graduated with the highest honors of Summa Cum Laude, immediately accepted a position with a Fortune 100 firm, and now own my own company which grossed $1 Million in our first year. I am just one success story, however. Dr. Tricoli has made a remarkable difference in the lives of countless others.

    It is also worth mentioning that Dr. Anthony Tricoli is one of our nations “thought leaders.” I can think of no other educator in the nation who is better equipped than Dr. Tricoli to lead any institution of higher learning. Dr. Tricoli is highly creative, intelligent, and entrepreneurial in assessing organizational challenges and developing strategies to overcome any obstacle.

    In addition to his outstanding intellect, Dr. Tricoli is highly ethical in his decisions and actions, which is why he has such a committed following. As a college president, he was an excellent role model to thousands of students who attended the college he led for six years. I am so relieved that his good name has been restored! Arguably, he accomplished more for the students of GPC than any previous GPC president in history. It is my prayer that Dr. Tricoli’s latter will be even greater than his past and that his legacy will be blessed indeed.

    1. As a former GPC student leader during Dr. Tricoli’s tenure, I agree wholeheartedly with the previous poster (Brandon). Dr. Tricoli is about as down to earth as anyone I’ve ever met. He was also a great mentor to me. I liked that he mingled among us students and asked of our opinions and thoughts. I saw him regularly at the basketball and soccer games. He always has a smile for us and always asked us how our classes are going. He remembered that I was struggling in my Organic Chem class and he checked in on me fairly regularly. Too bad he’s no longer at GPC. He deserves nothing but good to come his way.

  17. Dr. Tricoli is a man of unquestioned integrity. He is a builder of partnerships, teams and community, always focused on students and their success. Having worked with him I can personally attest that his attention to the details of the job and understanding of the broad impact of education make him a perfect candidate for any organization that wishes to have a leader who is innovative, fastidious, unflappable under pressure, bright, inclusive, approachable, highly ethical, motivational, collaborative, and fair. He understands economic development and the connection between college and work. This exoneration is well deserved and is about time. Thanks to Georgia Watchdogs for doing the right thing!

  18. This is your typical evil vs. good story. Tricoli’s greatest weapon against the USG is their own audit findings which they’ve refused to release for public consumption. In this story “David” (Tricoli) uses truth and facts to whip the Goliath (USG). With any research into this case at all, it becomes abundantly clear Tricoli did not create a budget problem, this was all a sham in order to get him out of the way so the USG could merge GPC under Georgia State University. Georgia Watchdogs hit the nail squarely on the head with exoneration for Tricoli. Now we have to ask, when is the Attorney General going to prosecute those who committed fraud and RICO crimes?

  19. Very happy to see Dr. Tricoli exonerated! None of the treatment he received was deserved. He was the most articulate and creative leader of any of Georgia’s colleges. The funds he received in 2008-2010 from the House and Senate to grow out GPC was the best investment made in higher education in Georgia in decades. The USG lost a great president just because they wanted to increase student fees at GSU to pay for football. What a joke…..

  20. Tricoli suffered the consequences of those who have morals and ethics. Exoneration is the first step to righting the terrible wrong for this outstanding leader.

  21. Exonerated! It’s About Time!! Why did it take so long for someone to reach this conclusion. The college’s audit of this situation occurred back in October of 2012, and Dr. Tricoli was found totally innocent of everything at that time. His finance people lied to him about the budget! What else needed to be said? This is a man who was among the best college leaders in the USA. His accomplishments were phenomenal, and the work he did for us students was unlike anything anybody else was doing. As a former student leader at GPC, I am sad that he is no longer the college’s president, and I am sad that future GPC students will not have the benefit of his leadership. It is insane that it took three years to clear Dr. Tricoli’s name. I am sick of the games being played by our politicians in Georgia! They did great harm to a very good person.

  22. Awesome, glad to hear about Dr. Tricoli’s exoneration, he deserves this. Great reporting job by Georgia Watchdogs. Happy to see the truth of this matter exposed. There’s nothing like the truth exposed to free an innocent man. Best of luck moving forward Anthony.

  23. Anthony Tricoli is an authentic, bright, honest and creative man. I expect this exoneration will also prove he is a resilient leader in the face of a system that is absolutely corrupt. Those of us who know and worked with him are pleased with his full exoneration. We always knew this would be the case.

  24. Like the others here, I too am pleased about the exoneration of Dr. Tricoli. It was shameful that the USG pulled this stunt just because they wanted him out of the way to assure their merger plans. Dr. Tricoli always supported what was best for students, and as we can all see by GPC’s current and enrollment numbers, this merger was devastating to Atlanta’s students, just as Dr. Tricoli said it would be.

    1. Thank you to Sabrina Smith and the Georgia Watchdogs for standing up for justice. Dr. Tricoli should never have been blamed for what happened at GPC. Just read the USG’s Audit, and you too will see that he was set up and that his name and reputation were illegally smeared by the Chancellor (Hank Huckaby) and Vice Chancellor (Steve Wrigley) of the USG. They wanted him out of the way so they could put GPC under Georgia State University. They would do anything for money and power. Our USG is a sick institution, led by corrupt men.

  25. Anthony’s exonoration comes as no surprise. He is a highly ethical leader as has been said here already. He cares about the people who work for and with him. His organizational change and leadership style is very inclusive. He is a wizzard at identifying problems and creating solutions in partnership with others. He will do well now that this is finally behind him.

    1. When it comes to leaders in shared governance, it is difficult to find those who truly understand how to make this happen successfully. More importantly, it is difficult to find a college president who knows “how” to share in decision making discussions with the faculty and staff. However, anthony tricoli is not a typical college president. He entered gpc in 2006, and within 9 months I was sold on his ability to lead this very complicated college. The kudos he received from the “community college times” is a result of his belief and leadership in the shared governance movement. He understands what is needed to build a team, he knows how to listen, and he understands people and relationships.

      http://www.ccdaily.com/Pages/Campus-Issues/shared-governance.aspx

  26. Any college that desires an incredibly experienced president who is also ethical, easy to talk with and who believes in treating custodians and Vice Presidents both with equal respect, should be taking a close look at Dr. Anthony Tricoli. While I am sad that he’s no longer at GPC, I’m happy his reputation has finally been restored. Tricoli is a good man and an awesome college president who was treated very unfairly by the new leaders at the USG.

  27. Tricoli was a great college president, glad to see him get his due here. He is a man with the right ethics and values. Too bad the rest of Georgia’s leaders are nothing like him. Best of luck to Dr. Tricoli.

  28. Anthony is an incredible college leader. The people love him because he listens to their concerns, engages then in authentic conversation, and takes actions that are fair to all. He is a good guy. Watch for a very strong comeback to a college that needs an ethical and experienced leader.

    1. Anthony is a collaborator, a healer and a team builder. He was a was a great president for us here at GPC. He is the real deal, authentic and honest.

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