Cal Poly can now permanently remove a 53-foot “Moriarty Enterprises’’ ad from the top of its scoreboard at Alex G. Spanos Stadium under an agreement announced Wednesday with a bankruptcy trustee.
Al Moriarty, who was convicted in 2014 of defrauding 170 investors of $22 million in a Ponzi scheme by using investor money to pay other investors and himself, is serving time in San Luis Obispo County Jail.
If approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Cal Poly will pay $480,000 — using Cal Poly Foundation funds — to release all claims against the university. In exchange, it can remove the ad.
Moriarty, a former Cal Poly football player and major booster, filed for bankruptcy in Washington state in 2012.
In 2009, while engaged in the Ponzi scheme, he paid $625,000 for naming rights to what was then a new Cal Poly video scoreboard through the Cal Poly Foundation. As a result, the scoreboard included the Moriarty ad.
Saying that Moriarty used investor money to help pay for the naming rights, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to repay his creditors, argued that his investors were entitled to the money he’d paid.
“This settlement benefits both Moriarty’s bankruptcy estate and the university,” Cal Poly officials said in a statement released Wednesday. “The bankruptcy estate is receiving the university’s estimated value of the naming rights for the remaining life of the scoreboard, and the university is regaining control of that part of its scoreboard display and signage.”
The sign has been covered temporarily the past few months while the trustee and Cal Poly negotiated the issue in a court-sponsored mediation program.
The Cal Poly Foundation is the university’s nonprofit fundraising arm; no state or tuition money was spent toward the settlement, the university said.
“It has been a priority to resolve this matter amicably and to remove the Moriarty name from the scoreboard, which has served as a painful reminder to Mr. Moriarty’s victims and to the campus community,” Cal Poly said in its statement. “The settlement brings closure to a difficult situation and reestablishes the university’s control over the scoreboard.”
Moriarty is expected to be released from County Jail on Dec. 20, according to the Sheriff’s Office website.