University hires, quickly fires sports spokesman

sports

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The University of Great Falls fired its director of sports information and marketing shortly after hiring him on Thursday, saying it learned he had a criminal record that an initial background check failed to uncover.

The Great Falls Tribune reported (http://tinyurl.com/mlo74gu) Todd Brittingham pleaded guilty in Kansas in 2011 to misdemeanor charges of endangering a child and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

He was sentenced to a year on probation.

No phone listing could be found for Brittingham. The newspaper said he didn’t return several messages left on his cellphone.

The newspaper said it contacted school officials about the Kansas case shortly after the university announced Brittingham’s hiring. Within two hours, the university said it had dismissed Brittingham.

The university said it had conducted a criminal background check on Brittingham, as it does on all prospective employees, but it didn’t turn up the Kansas case.

“I’m devastated,” said Gary Ehnes, the university’s athletic director. “You do a background check on a guy and figure that’s going to do it. But I guess we have to go further than that.”

Ehnes said Brittingham had good references.

“That’s why we started looking at him hard. We got good recommendations from top officials,” he said.

Brittingham had been a teacher and soccer coach at McPherson High School in McPherson, Kan., when the case arose.

The Hutchinson (Kan.) News reported Brittingham was initially charged with four felony counts of having unlawful sexual relations with a 16-year-old female student in 2010.

Those charges were dismissed when Brittingham pleaded guilty to child endangerment and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The judge suspended a six-month jail term, sentenced him to probation and ordered him to surrender his teaching license.

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Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

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