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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

State auditors will continue to review issues raised by the Springboro school board following an annual audit that focused on camps run by five current or former coaches of the district.

The Ohio Auditor's Office began reviewing the coach camps and sport boosters organization in the Springboro district in 2012 after a theft of funds was reported by Springboro Athletic Boosters.

Before the state closed the Springboro school district's 2012 audit in December, five coaches paid the district $40,004 to balance accounts from camps they held from 2010 to 2012, a letter obtained by the Dayton Daily News shows.

During its 2013 audit of the district this year, officials with Ohio Auditor David Yost's Office said they will continue to look at "additional issues" raised by the school board, according to a letter accompanying the district's 2012 audit.

Yost's office and the school district would not comment on the "additional issues."

"That audit is ongoing," Blaine Kelly, spokesman for the Ohio Auditor's Office, said.

No findings for recovery of misspent funds were made in the audit, released in December. However the state recommended changes in policies to avoid future problems.

"What the audit determined was that the district did not have sufficient policies in place and or whatever policies they had in place, they did not enforce them or enforce them consistently," said John Doll, the coaches' lawyer.

The coaches repaid the money, although state and local officials acknowledge inadequate district policies and a lack of enforcement contributed to the problem.

In the audit, the coaches indicated they were operating according to direction from the superintendent or athletic director, in some cases through arrangements dating back more than a decade.

For example, auditors determined Troy Holtrey, former basketball coach and athletic director, had been operating camps for 20 years, first through the boosters and then with a separate account.

"Mr. Holtrey indicated that after he had paid for all of the expenses (camp workers, T-shirts, basketballs, etc.) related to the camp, he considered any funds remaining from the fees he collected to be his stipend," according to another letter from the state to the the district obtained through a public-records request.

This letter also summarized operation of camps by boys football Coach Ryan Wilhite and baseball Coach Mark Pelfrey and girls volleyball Coach Kevin Sedensky and basketball Coach Tom Benjamin with separate accounts.

"In terms of accounting purposes, I and the other coaches have always acted in a way that was consistent with what we were told to do by our administration," Wilhite said in an email. "And, when we were asked to make adjustments and/or changes, we did so immediately. We have always been in compliance with what we were told to do and the state audit found no wrongdoing on behalf of the coaches."

The audit findings were provided to the IRS for further review. Over the past two years, the school board adopted new policies requiring all coach camp finances to be accounted for in the board office. The new policies split camp revenues 80 percent for coaches, minus expenses; and 20 percent to the district. Coaches are expected to set up corporations to manage and account for the funds and pay staff, facilities-use fees, insurance, taxes and other expenses.

Last July, Thomas Harves, the longtime booster club treasurer, was sentenced to 90 days in the county jail with work release for embezzling at least $439,455 from the Springboro sports booster club.

"Springboro Community City Schools would like to assure the community that as problems came to light, we took action to restore and improve responsible financial oversight," Superintendent Todd Petrey said in a statement posted on the district website.

In another email, Petrey urged the state to reopen the 2012 audit and interview each coach with a camp under scrutiny.

"I feel this is imperative due to the political nature surrounding the official release of this audit," Petrey said in the Jan. 7 email.

Rather than reopen the audit, state auditors will consider Petrey's concerns - along with issues raised by the board - during work on the 2012-2013 audit, Kelly said.

 

February 11, 2014

 

 
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