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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Estero High football coach Jeff Hanlon was fired from his coaching position and restricted from coaching within Lee County following the results of an investigation into misconduct by the Lee County School District that included mismanaged finances associated with the football and booster programs and the failure to follow appropriate concussion protocol.

Hanlon was in his third season with the Wildcats when he was reassigned to the district office in October pending a standards inquiry.

The former Lehigh and Naples assistant coach along with his wife, Marjorie Hanlon, a teacher leader and the boys track and field coach at Estero, were reassigned to new schools and are prohibited from handling money on behalf of the district after the investigation found just cause for disciplinary action.

The investigation found Jeff Hanlon, who served a three-day suspension in December, maintained no records of substantial cash transactions generated from locker room concession sales, using the undocumented cash from the sales to purchase alcohol for resale at a golf fundraiser and funneling credit card transactions totaling a little more than $2,000 from the same fundraiser to an account held by their daughter, a report from the Department of Education Office of Professional Practices Services states.

The investigation sparked by a September reported theft of locker room concession money cites bank records that show money from the Estero Wildcat Football Golf Tournament Fundraiser in August was spent almost immediately after the deposit at Sam's Club, Publix, Mel's Diner, Marshall's, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch and Jet's Pizza in the Naples area.

The Hanlons only reimbursed the credit card proceeds from the golf tournament when questioned about the whereabouts of the money in a meeting with district personnel on Oct. 24, the report said.

Estero principal Clayton Simmons said he first identified gaps in the football coach's record keeping when Jeff Hanlon, who didn't return messages for comment, reported around $60 was taken from his Gatorade and snack locker room snack sales. When vice principal Michael Amabile and staff tracked down the culprit, a student, he grew concerned when he realized the coach was unaware of how much was actually stolen from the concession sales.

The school's bookkeeper, Donna Vigorito, said there were no records of deposits for the current year and former booster club president Terry Rohrman and athletic director Don Payne, who didn't return messages for comment, reported only one deposit was made during the current school year. That deposit was related to the golf fundraiser.

Jeff Hanlon admitted in interviews with district personnel he didn't document proceeds from locker room concessions because "no one ever told me I had to do that." He added he used the cash from the locker room sales to purchase $856 worth of merchandise from Sam's Club, including alcohol to be resold at the golf tournament.

Simmons reported he was not notified of the alcohol sales that occurred nor was he aware Hanlon used concession proceeds to purchase it.

The report states Jeff Hanlon and his wife acknowledged collecting $2,298 in credit card receipts from the event via a Square credit card reader attached to Marjorie Hanlon's phone and routing the funds to their daughter's account. Jeff Hanlon's reasoning for not depositing the money for nearly three months into the booster club account was current booster club president Coleen Thompson "hasn't collected it yet."

When interviewed, Thompson said Marjorie Hanlon informed her "she would give her a check for the credit receipts as soon as the fees (associated with the Square device) cleared." Bank records showed the fees cleared Aug. 13, the day after the tournament.

During the Oct. 24 meeting with district personnel, which gave the Hanlons the opportunity to identify and produce thousands of dollars in fundraising money in lieu of the district turning the matter over to law enforcement, the Hanlons reimbursed the school for the credit card charges from the golf tournament and shared information about the origin and whereabouts of significant booster and football program money, including outstanding checks he collected from player payments for Pride Packs, which are team apparel, and attendance at the Grind It Out team camp in Babson Park over the summer.

There was an unexplained $660 surplus between the money deposited into the booster club account, money paid to the account for 48 players to attend Grind It Out and the money paid from the school's internal fund for the camp.

Regarding the Pride Packs, which cost $60, only $2,455 in checks and cash was deposited where there should have been $6,540 collected if all 109 players paid or were going to pay. The report also states the existence of an $8,214 outstanding invoice for the Pride Packs.

Jeff Hanlon couldn't account for any of the differences in the amounts during the Oct. 24 meeting. On Nov. 6, he admitted he did not collect money from 60 players, handed out Pride Packs to players well before everyone paid, and reported he ordered "extra units."

The report also included witness statements about an incident that occurred during a Sept. 18 practice where Jeff Hanlon is alleged to have downplayed a player's concussion-like symptoms.

The junior stated in the report he suffered two helmet-to-helmet hits during the practice and began experiencing a headache, forgetfulness, sensitivity to light and confusion. He reported it to assistant coach Jason Krupp, who faces possible discipline and a report to the Office of Professional Practices and Services due to possible interference and providing a false statement.

Krupp escorted the player to Jeff Hanlon and Hanlon directed the player to sit out the remainder of practice but did not check back with the player at the end, the player said.

The player told his mother about the incident prompting a text message from the mother to Jeff Hanlon later that night, expressing concern her son was waking up frequently.

"Recent studies show that it is better to let the player (with a head injury) sleep and rest," Jeff Hanlon replied per the report.

The player didn't practice the next three days despite Jeff Hanlon asking if he could and offering him Advil. The junior told the coach he could play in Estero's Sept. 22 game at Gulf Coast, but the player informed assistant coach Derrick Morse he was involved in an incident at practice days earlier.

Morse immediately took the player to see trainer Payton DiLallo, who was at practice all week and stated she didn't hear about the player's symptoms until Sept. 22.

DiLallo told district personnel she ruled the player out for the Gulf Coast game to Hanlon's dismay. She said Hanlon threw coolers on the ground and stated, "I don't want to hear it."

The trainer spoke with the player's mother, recommending he see a doctor. When he did, the doctor confirmed he had a concussion, the report said.

DiLallo said another teacher informed her of Jeff Hanlon's frustrations with her "because all she does is pull (players) from games."

The Wildcats finished the season 4-4 with interim coach Brad Vojcak running the team in Hanlon's absence.

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January 11, 2018
 
 
 

 

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