Former University of Tennessee President John W. Shumaker spent three nights in a Texas hotel room with a female colleague and then misled university auditors, an auditor told lawmakers Thursday.
Mark Paganelli, executive director of UT's auditing department, was one of five top administrators from the Knoxville campus questioned under oath Thursday by the General Assembly's Fiscal Review Committee.
Mr. Paganelli said Dr. Shumaker misled auditors who asked why the name of Dr. Carol Garrison, chancellor of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, had appeared on a hotel bill paid by UT.
Dr. Shumaker initially told auditors he gave his hotel room to Dr. Garrison, a former colleague at the University of Louisville, when she was unable to get a room at a conference last December in San Antonio, Texas.
Dr. Shumaker told auditors Dr. Garrison was walking in the rain to the conference, so he agreed to let her have his room, according to Mr. Paganelli.
"(Dr. Shumaker) said, 'I went and stayed with a friend in another room. Therefore, when the hotel changed the bill out, they made a mistake,'" Mr. Paganelli said.
Lawmakers on the committee laughed at that explanation.
"I could have done better than that," said Sen. Jerry Cooper, D-Morrison, the committee's chairman.
Mr. Paganelli said Dr. Shumaker "came back the next day and said he was not truthful with us about that."
"They shared the room. He stayed three nights, but after the second night they transferred the charges over to her, which she turned in to UAB," Mr. Paganelli said. "The hotel made a mistake when they were splitting the cost between the two of them. She got the conference rate, and he had a rate of $120 more than she did."
Shumaker, who resigned Aug. 8 while under investigation for extravagant spending and ethical lapses, had previously described his relationship with Garrison as "very good personal friends" and "unassailable, perfectly proper and appropriate."
Auditors caught on to the lie when questioning a receipt they found in Garrison's name, Paganelli said. The first two nights of their stay was paid by UT, while the third was billed to UAB at a rate $120 less than the previous two.
In a statement Thursday, Garrison acknowledged a relationship with Shumaker and said UAB paid for her hotel room because she was there on official business that had been approved by the chancellor.
"My relationship with John Shumaker at the University of Louisville was professional. Our relationship now is personal, and has been no secret, as he has attended a number of Birmingham and UAB events," Garrison said.