UT Missing Piano Found

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– A missing Kimball grand piano, given to the University of Tennessee music department in 1987 by then-Gov. Lamar Alexander, has been located.

UT auditors were notified by the music department earlier this week that the piano could not be located.

UT officials said they received an anonymous phone call Tuesday that pointed them to the location of the instrument. A music student told UT officials Tuesday he paid former UT band director James Sparks more than $2,000 cash for the piano in August 1993.

The piano was returned to the music building Wednesday morning.

Richard Boring, UT audit director, said this was an unauthorized sale, since surplus university property is sold through a bid process and not by individual departments or by university employees. He said auditors have as yet found no record that the money from the sale was deposited to a university account.

Auditors have been unable to contact Sparks, he said.

Rather than be fired, Sparks resigned from the director’s position and from the faculty in March. He also agreed to pay UT nearly $54,000 in band funds not accounted for in a UT audit.

The student showed UT officials a loan contract indicating he and his family had borrowed $2,000 to buy a piano, and he produced a canceled check to a Knoxville firm that moved the piano from the music building to his home.

UT officials have informed the district attorney general of this development in the Sparks case.

Contact: John Clark (423-974-2225)

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