By Bill Britt
Auburn City Schools entered into a contract with convicted felon, Mike Hubbard, in July, giving him exclusive rights to broadcast Auburn school sports for free.
The school system rejected proposals from larger stations, who offered to pay for the rights. A comparison of the plans show Tiger Communications, with a broadcast signal of 25,000 watts, and the biggest coverage area in the county, offering $11,500 per year for five years, for a total of $57,500.
The next largest station, iHeart Media, with a broadcast signal of 6000 watts, provided $1000 per year, with a five year total of $5,000.
Hubbard’s Auburn Network with only 4200 watts won the contract and paid nothing.
As the Alabama Political Reporter found in August 2013, the same day as certification of a House bill allowing a tax referendum for Auburn Schools, Hubbard’s company, Auburn Network, received a contract, giving his company exclusive rights to broadcast Auburn High School sports.
In a Supplemental Brief in support of sentencing recommendation filed Friday, the State asked that Hubbard be ordered to pay $1,125,000.00 in restitution for his criminal acts. In the brief, the State contends the court should not allow Hubbard to keep his ill-gotten gains, obtained as a result of breaching the public’s trust. It further states, that unless the court orders restitution, “Hubbard and his businesses will continue reaping the returns from his sale of his office as Speaker, even after he serves his prison sentence.”
During the 2013 Legislative Session, it was rumored that Hubbard agreed to allow a tax referendum to pass the Alabama House in exchange for Auburn School Superintendent Karen Delano’s promise to grant Hubbard the rights to broadcast the city’s high school sports programs.
Repeated calls to Delano’s office at that time by alreporter.com were met with promises by her assistant that Delano would return our calls. She never did.
On May 20, 2013, HB266 received House Certification becoming Act No. 2013-321 giving the City of Auburn the right to hold a referendum to raise ad valorem tax on the property owners of the city.
For over six decades, WAUD radio, owned by Tom Hayley’s Tiger Communications, was the home of the Auburn High School teams.
In 2013, Auburn City School Superintendent Delano failed to inform Hayley of Hubbard’s deal.
Hubbard’s 2016 offer of zero dollars compared to Hayley’s $57,500, raises serious questions.
Editor’s note: Since this column was written Superintendent Delano has offered her explanation that Tiger Communications was passed over because ACS had difficulty collecting their payment when they last held the contract. But last week, Tiger Communications was announced as the Lee County voice of Auburn University sports. Good enough for AU but not for ACS.