Sports Organization Leaving R.I. as State Investigates Finances ; Nonprofit

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Institute for International Sport vows to pay back $383,000 it owes to URI

SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- The nonprofit Institute for International Sport, under scrutiny by the state auditor general, announced Monday it will leave Rhode Island by Sept. 1.

The organization "will honor all obligations to the University of Rhode Island and the State of Rhode Island and ensure that the university is the beneficiary of the investments that the institute has made at the URI campus in Kingston," according to a statement by the chairman of the board of directors, Michael Healy, an insurance executive in Ireland.

"We will make certain to live up to any and all obligations before we depart," he said in the statement. Those obligations include a $383,000 debt to URI.

A spokesman for House Speaker Gordon D. Fox said, "Quite frankly, we thought they already had left Rhode Island."

The institute held two youth programs in Hartford in the summer of 2011 but did not pay its bills.

Philanthropist Alan Hassenfeld has said he reimbursed the University of Hartford close to $500,000 in expenses incurred hosting the events, the World Scholar-Athlete Games and the accompanying World Youth Peace Summit.

The last time the institute held its Scholar-Athlete Games at URI was in 2008, with competition involving student-athletes from across the United States. The institute's signature international event, the World Scholar Athlete Games, occurred periodically at URI between 1993 and 2006.

Institute spokeswoman Patti Doyle, who issued the written statement from Healy Monday, said recent publicity about the institute has nothing to do with the decision to move. She said that "given the spotlight" of the past week, "they wanted to be very transparent and open about their intention."

But she did not say why they are moving.

The board plans to announce the institute's new home base in early May, said Doyle, senior vice president of RDW Group, a communications agency in Providence, and sister-in-law of the institute's founder, Daniel E. Doyle.

Because of its 25-year history of youth programs in foreign countries as well as the United States, there is interest elsewhere in hosting the institute, Patti Doyle said. …