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State investigation planned interview with former OU trustee

As part of an ongoing state investigation into presidential housing at Ohio University, the Ohio Office of the Inspector General requested to interview former Board of Trustees Chair David Brightbill earlier this month. 

Brightbill, who served as the board’s chair in the 2014-15 academic year, agreed to a request for a phone interview by the Ohio Office of the Inspector General during the week of Oct. 16, according to email records obtained by the The Post in a public records request.

That interview was the latest in a series of requests for meetings and records in an investigation, launched more than two years ago by the state’s watchdog agency, into the university’s actions regarding presidential housing in early 2015.

Deputy Inspector General Rebekeh Wolcott requested to speak with Brightbill regarding his involvement in OU’s leasing of 31 Coventry Lane, the former president’s residence, in an Oct. 3 email. That email referenced an “investigation of the events leading up to Ohio University entering into a lease agreement” for the house in March 2015. 

The investigation centers on a series of events that year, starting with OU’s decision to move then-President Roderick McDavis and his wife from an on-campus house at 29 Park Place to the off-campus house at 31 Coventry Lane after bats were discovered in the residence. 

Instead of purchasing the home like the university originally indicated, it announced in April 2015 that it would lease the home because of a “problematic” verbal agreement with the home’s owner, John Wharton, made with OU Director of Athletics Jim Schaus, according to a previous Post report.

Later that month, the Inspector General’s office began requesting records from OU related to its presidential housing and relationship with Wharton. Such requests have continued to this day, and have included email files from 13 university officials and interviews with the McDavises, according to previous Post reports.

Brightbill was appointed to the board in 2008 and replaced in summer 2015. In the email exchange with Wolcott, he requested to have someone from OU’s legal department on the call with him, to which Wolcott agreed.

Most recently, the office requested files from the university on Sept. 25, email records show. Such files included payment records, security expenses, real estate transactions and donor proposals related to OU's presidential housing. The office previously requested university records in May and June of this year, according to another Post report.


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