By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Steve Harvey doesn’t owe Alabama State University “one single cent” for its Turkey Day Classic football game and surrounding events, instead it’s the university that owes Harvey, the entertainer’s business partner said Saturday.
In an interview with APR, Montgomery businessman Greg Calhoun, who partners with Harvey in an investment company named HarCal, said ASU has collected more than $800,000 in revenue from ticket sales for the 2016 TDC and enjoyed “six days of high-level entertainment.”
“This doesn’t make sense if you think about it: How can you rob a broke man?” Calhoun asked. “ASU went from being so broke they couldn’t afford a concert and got duped by a promoter on a Lil Wayne concert in 2015 to now, in 2016, having six days of concerts and a great crowd at the game.
“To come back on Steve Harvey and act like he’s trying to pull something – it makes no sense. He brought a million dollars into this town of his own money, and he knew he wouldn’t make much, if anything. It was about helping those students and that school.”
At a board meeting on Friday, several media outlets reported that ASU trustees alleged HarCal had failed to pay the school and trustees went into executive session to discuss potential legal options for getting the money the school is owed.
In the original contract HarCal signed with ASU, the school was guaranteed a $170,000 in profits – a figure that was approximately equal to what ASU had made off the previous two TDC games. All money above was to be split with HarCal, 80-20, with HarCal, which was fronting 100 percent of the upfront costs, receiving the larger share.
Calhoun said he went to meet with ASU officials in December to share financial figures from the game and work out the final details of what each side was owed. But school officials said their figures weren’t ready yet, left the meeting and fired then-president Gwendolyn Boyd later that afternoon.
“You have all of these people who want to work with Steve Harvey – from Mississippi State to (Florida A&M) to the University of Alabama – happy to have him on their campus and be involved with him, and then there’s ASU,” Calhoun said. “It’s all politics, has been since day one. There has been nothing but trouble out of this contract and for no reason.
“Look at what we’ve put and the risks we’ve taken. You can’t take a million dollars into Montgomery and make anything. We knew that. Everyone knew that. But they acted like we were trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Show me how.”
Calhoun said HarCal will ultimately lose money on the deal, even if it is able to recoup money from ASU. He said that’s partly because of a decision ASU officials made not to pay $20,000 to break an ESPN contract in exchange for a $1 million total entertainment contract involving NBC and its parent company Universal.
Part of that deal, Calhoun said, involved Universal arranging for some episodes of “Family Feud,” the popular daytime gameshow that Harvey hosts, to be shot in Montgomery, likely at ASU.
“Just do the math there,” Calhoun said. “This is all about the Magic City Classic and making sure we didn’t get it. Dr. Boyd wanted to give us that contract if the Turkey Day went well. So, some people set out to make sure that never happened and they undercut us at every turn.”
Calhoun confirmed that ASU also has sent a $63,000 bill to HarCal for the costs of facility rental and security for the six days of events surrounding the TDC. Those costs were not included in the contract and he said HarCal has no intentions of paying the bill.
“Everyone sat in that room and worked this out and there was never any mention of those costs being separated out,” Calhoun said. “Kenny Thomas (ASU’s legal counsel) drew up the contract himself. If he wanted that in there, he should’ve put it in there. The reason it wasn’t is because those expenses are commonly included for promoters.”
To support his claims, Calhoun provided APR with text messages from Boyd and former ASU board chairman Locy Baker that show they believed the costs of facility rental and security were to be included in ASU’s portion – a common practice.
In her message, Boyd said M/R Productions didn’t pay for those services for similar events in 2015, and she called the inclusion of security and facilities in a contract “common practice.”
Baker echoed Boyd and said he called both Thomas and ASU vice president of finance Wanda Smith to verify that the costs were included in ASU’s responsibilities and not part of the contract.
“Because of all this, HarCal won’t continue to work with ASU,” Calhoun said. “It’s a shame, but you’re talking about a man with five of the top programs on TV and radio right now. And ASU folks are kicking him out like he’s a nobody.”