A variety of relationships can develop between accounting academics, academic units, and external sponsors that raise issues of ethical propriety. External donors may seek to influence academic decisions by applying pressure on recipients to gain favored treatment. We believe these types of situations are on the rise because of increased commercialization of universities. In this study, we examine relationships between accounting academics and external sponsors that challenge academic independence because of conflicts of interest when donors seek to impose conditions on financial support. We solicit the opinions of academic accountants about how likely they are to go along with the conditions. We link these activities to the following ethical issues: fair-mindedness, objectivity, and integrity. We conclude that the more experienced accounting academics (i.e., full professors, current chairs, holders of endowed chairs, and designated faculty fellows) are less likely to engage in ethically questionable relationships with external sponsors than academics who are less experienced. The results are driven primarily by two cases: allowing a Big 4 CPA firm to interview students before other firms as a condition of continued recruiting, and allowing a firm to decide on the recipient of a named faculty fellowship.

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