UPDATED 7:49 p.m. ET: Tyrone Hankerson is speaking out. After being accused of financial aid theft, the former Howard University student-employee released a statement in which he declared his innocence.
“Please know that I have done nothing illegal or wrong. When the truth comes out, it will be confirmed that I followed all rules and protocol with the approval of the, then, financial aid officers in any grants, scholarships or awards given to me as a student who attended class all year round and traveled abroad,” he told ABC News. “[…] It is very sad that in an attempt to attack the current leadership of the school, a portion of my financial profile was illegally shared with media outlets, without any conversation or approval from me or my legal team.”
Hankerson went to say that he has already consulted with an attorney and will remain silent until further notice.
See the original story below.
The school confirmed the terminations Wednesday after an anonymous whistleblower published two online reports that alleged Howard staff members stole $1 million in funds between 2013 and 2017. The author of the posts, which have since been deleted on Medium, also accused Howard officials of concealing the fraud case since May of 2017, following an internal investigation.
In wake of the anonymous reports, Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick released a statement about the firings as well as the steps the university was taking to ensure it never happened again.
“While this has been a very difficult and disappointing situation, I know our campus community deserves better and I am committed to ensuring that each of our campus offices operate with integrity and are the best that higher education has to offer,” Frederick wrote, before listing off the school’s newly implemented measures. The steps include:
- Annual budgets for each category of financial aid are now loaded into the university’s Banner student information system by the University Budget Office consistent with the university’s overall Financial Aid Budget.
- Approval for all awards of university grants are now reviewed and approved by the Budget Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office
- Approval for all grant-funded financial aid are now reviewed and approved by the university’s Grant Accounting Unit prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
- An annual reconciliation of awarded financial aid to approved financial aid is now being conducted.
- A new Associate Provost for Enrollment Management and a new Chief Compliance Officer have been hired by the University.
Fredrick confirmed he became aware of possible misappropriated funds in December 2016, shortly before the internal investigation was launched. The probe revealed that university grants had been awarded to some school employees who were also receiving tuition benefits. When the grants and tuition remissions were added up, it was discovered that the money had equaled more than the total cost of attendance, thus resulting in inappropriate refunds.
Fredrick did not reveal the amount of money that was misappropriated; he did however, say the funds were not from the federal government or from donors.
Of course, many Howard students have expressed outrage over the new report.
Though Frederick has not revealed the identities of the terminated employees, the anonymous Medium report did drop names: Associate Director of Financial Aid Brian Johnson and student-employee Tyrone Hankerson, who allegedly received about $200,000 and $429,000, respectively. Twitter went in on the latter employee.
The jokes didn't stop there. One student even curated a playlist inspired by the scandal. The tracks include Migos’ “Finesser,” Piles’ “Ran Off on Da Plug Twice,” Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” Biggie’s “Mo Money Mo Problems,” and Gucci Mane’s “I Get the Bag.” Check it out here.