November 21, 2014

TAMUG Terminates Marine Terminal Manager Atchley

Contact: Frank Griffis or Rod Davis
(979) 458-6023
Griffis after 6 p.m.: 936-855-9926
Davis after 6 p.m.: 979-587-2778
SysComm@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Officials at Texas A&M University at Galveston announced today that James D. Atchley was terminated on Friday from his position as marine terminal manager for failing to reveal his criminal history information on his 1997 job application. Atchley’s duties included coaching TAMUG’s offshore sailing team.

Jay Kimbrough, general counsel and deputy chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, said he was notified on Friday that Atchley, who was responsible for overseeing all repair work and maintenance of TAMUG’s fleet, possibly had a criminal history. The Texas A&M System, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the June 6 sinking of the Cynthia Woods, a sailing vessel raced by the offshore sailing team.

A search of several data bases revealed that Atchley had been convicted in 1990 on a federal offense involving the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s.

Upon learning of Atchley’s felony conviction last week, TAMUG officials reviewed his employment application, which showed that he left unanswered the question regarding prior criminal convictions, and they immediately interviewed him. TAMUG did not begin criminal background checks on staff until 2001 and not on faculty until more recently. In March, the A&M System adopted a regulation requiring criminal background checks on existing faculty as well as staff and graduate students.

“It’s important to understand that Atchley was terminated for having withheld the federal felony conviction information on his application, not for any job performance issues related to his oversight of the offshore sailing team,” Kimbrough said. “Withholding criminal history information will not be tolerated.”

The Cynthia Woods capsized on the night of June 6 in the Gulf of Mexico while competing in the Regata de Amigos, a sailing race from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. Five members of the TAMUG Offshore Sailing Team were rescued on June 8 reportedly 27 miles off the Texas coast near Freeport. The body of the sixth crew member, safety officer Roger Stone, was found that afternoon, and funeral services were held on June 12.

About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $2.9 billion. Through a statewide network of nine universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 106,000 students and makes more than 15 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research brings in almost $627 million every year and helps drive the state’s economy.