WEST VILLAGE — The coach of NYU's Triathlon Club was told to return hundreds of dollars in cash and gift cards that he had received as holiday presents from the club's athletes after the school determined the gifts violated NYU's code of conduct.
The school received a complaint that coach Mike Galvan had received cash from his students over the holidays, a spokesman for the school said.
NYU's Department of Athletics investigated the complaint and learned Triathlon Club members have "a tradition" of giving the coach cash or gift cards during the holiday season, said Philip Lentz, director of public affairs at NYU.
Giving gifts is not illegal, Lentz said, but the Department of Athletics found the practice inconsistent with the Code of Conduct's conflict of interest provisions.
"These provisions were written to ensure that there is not even the appearance of a potential conflict with a coach's duties to treat all students fairly and impartially," Lentz explained.
School officials informed Galvan of the policy, and he "quickly agreed to return the gift," Lentz said.
Galvan, who has been a coach at NYU since 2007 and also coaches the Asphalt Green Triathlon Club, did not immediately return a call for comment.
NYU's Department of Athletics called a meeting with the triathlon team Monday to facilitate Galvan returning the money and to tell the club members they are not allowed to give the coach "these types of gifts" in the future, Lentz said.
NYU prefers that students not give presents to club coaches at all, Lentz added. However, teams are permitted to give gifts at the holidays, so long as the gift is given on behalf of the entire team and is "nominal in value," he said.
The gift must also be "appropriately symbolic for the activity, like a university sweatshirt," Lentz said.