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Sabino H.S. baseball probe: Head coach has history of violations

Posted at 3:30 PM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 16:25:17-04

Tucson Unified is releasing tomorrow it's finding of the recruiting probe into the Sabino High School baseball team -- recently crowned 3-A state champions. 

And now KGUN9 has learned the head coach Mark Chandler has a history of violating district and AIA rules. Chandler is currently under investigation for allegedly recruiting players to his baseball team -- an AIA violation.  

Chandler was reprimanded in August 2015  when he coached the baseball team at Sahuaro High School. KGUN9 has obtained from the district a letter of reprimand that was written by Interscholastic Director Herman House and hand-delivered to Chandler.

Coaches not only have to follow the athletic rules on and off the field, but also rules of business -- particularly with booster clubs.

This isn't the first time he's faced scrutiny for violating rules or as the district described - "unprofessional conduct" including "insubordination". 

The list of violations: 

  • Commingling of Student Activity and Booster Club Funds
  • Misappropriation of Meal Expenses Prepaid from Student Activity Fund
  • Violation of AIA Rules 

A district letter reveals Chandler put student-raised funds into a booster club account -- that's against district policies.

The documents reads: 
"Under Policy JJE, "The proceeds of all fund-raising activities shall be deposited in the Student Activity Fund, and funds from such activities shall be used only as specified in the Uniform System of Financial Records."  You admittedly knew about the Governing Board Policy but did not follow the instruction to deposit student-raised funds into the student activity account. In fact, you admit that on several occasions, your players conducted fundraisers for which the booster club received all proceeds.   For example, you told us that in September of 2014 "thirty something baseball players participated in selling candy bars" that you purchased with your "own funds" for a fundraiser.  You reimbursed yourself for the purchase and gave the $1027.00 in profit to the booster club. Most recently, your Gold Card fundraiser -- held in February 2015 -- was also deposited in its entirety to the booster club.  This is a violation of Governing Board policy JJE-JJE-R. You also admitted that all student fundraisers for the Sahuaro baseball program results in delivery of proceeds to the booster club.  Not only does this approach violate policy and statute, it is even more troubling in light of your admission that the booster club does not have a standing board, has only an interim treasurer, and funds some non-Sahuaro programs."

 And records reflect the booster account "boasted a balance often more than 5 times that of the baseball team's Student Activity Fund -- where much of the player-raised money should have gone.

The document also states Chandler had misused money for meals while the team traveled to a state baseball competition. In 2014, the district gave Chandler a check for about $1,200, but instead he used booster funds to pay for the team's meals and never reimbursed the district or the booster club.

"These monies were advanced to you from the student activity fund for the baseball club.    However, booster club banking records reflect that all of the team meals were purchased using a debit card drawing on the booster club bank account (card # ending in 4020, issued in your name).  The statement also shows that all the meals for the team and the coaches were purchased using this card.  The receipts also showed the purchases and the card number for payment.  You did not reimburse the student activity fund.   Moreover, we have reviewed the banking records for the booster club and find no evidence that the monies you received from the student activities fund were ever deposited to reimburse the booster club."

The letter states Chandler violated AIA bylaws by forming a Sahuaro H.S. baseball team of 8th graders through 10th-graders who were not good enough to make the Varsity and JV teams, charged the parents 65 dollars, and then scheduled games on Sundays -- a clear violation of AIA rules. Chandler stated "others are doing the same thing" so he thought he could do so. 

The letter states Chandler knew all along about the district rules.

"Prior to the beginning of your golf season in the fall of 2014 and again on February 4, 2015, you attended a coaches meeting where district policies and procedures were discussed; particularly the issue of booster club, club accounts, tax credit spending and fund-raisers. You were in attendance at both meetings and failed to follow the directions given by your Assistant Principal, Athletic Director and your Student Finance Manager in regards to your association with the booster club as well as proper procedures for fundraising, which violates Governing policy JJE and JJE-R which governs Student Fund-Raising."

TUSD ordered Chandler to pay back all the money (no amount given) into the right accounts and hand over the booster debit card.

KGUN9 reached out to the district to find out if they followed through with the consequences. We're waiting on that. We reached out to the district to request an interview with the coach and recieved this response: ""Unfortunately, at this time we will not be facilitating an interview with Coach Chandler."

The Board will learn at Tuesday's board meeting the findings of this latest investigation into alleged recruiting violations. The superintendent has said it's up to the board to decide if the results will be released to the public. 

Possible consequences of recruiting violations range from a warning to losing the 2018 state title.