COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The private venture capital fund co-founded by former JobsOhio chief Mark Kvamme first approached Ohio State University before Kvamme stepped aside from his state-related job-creation role, according to documents released Friday.
Ohio State made a $50 million financial commitment to the fledgling fund Drive Capital in July.
Documents released to The Associated Press in response to a public records request showed the fund's co-founder Chris Olsen had met with university officials by Oct. 26, 2012. Kvamme left JobsOhio effective Nov. 1, 2012.
"Ohio State would be an ideal limited partner for us, and we would love to work with you guys to achieve this vision in the coming years and decades," Olsen wrote in an email to chief investment officer Jonathan Hook. He thanked Hook for meeting with "us," copying Kvamme.
Ohio State's president at the time was Gordon Gee, who with Kvamme is an ally of Republican Gov. John Kasich for economic development and cost savings measures.
The investment has raised questions because venture funds are sometimes viewed as too risky for public institutions and because both Kvamme and Gee have ties to JobsOhio, the private nonprofit job-creation engine of the Kasich administration.
Kvamme helped create and previously led JobsOhio and Gee sits on its board. Details on the office's donors and spending have been largely private.
Gee retired as Ohio State president in July after remarks he made disparaging Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools became public. Kasich has tapped him to lead a yearlong statewide review of ways to improve the value of higher education.
A Kasich spokesman has said the governor was unaware of the investment until it surfaced in media reports and did not lobby Ohio State on Kvamme's behalf.
Reached Friday, Kvamme said he is prohibited under U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules from discussing the fund. At $50 million, Ohio State's investment makes up more than a quarter of what Drive Capital has reported raising so far.
Geoff Chatas, the university's senior vice president for business and finance, said in a telephone interview Friday that Drive Capital approached the university in the normal course of business. He said the first meeting occurred before the fund was launched and he had no concern about its timing.
"There was no fund to react to," he said. "There was no document. It was just discussions of ideas."
Chatas said the investment will be a way for the university to meet its economic goals.
"We are the flagship. ... Being a flagship means we are a cornerstone," he said. "What I would hate, is to have our innovations and companies have to go to places like California with Stanford or like Boston with Harvard and all these venture capitalists because we aren't willing to take prudent risks that have gone through a solid process to keep the momentum here."
He said all investments carry a certain amount of risk.
"Do all of our investments have risk? Yes -- across the spectrum," he said. "But the goal is to generate return and to keep jobs in Oho and create jobs in Ohio."
The investment came just before a change in policy by Ohio State's board to allow top administrators more leeway over how to invest operating funds.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.