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Sabino HS Baseball Probe: TUSD investigating coach's handling of booster funds

Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-15 01:39:54-04

The T-U-S-D board now knows the findings of the investigation into possible baseball recruiting violations at Sabino High school. 

The district presented the results in executive session this afternoon. And now we're learning that the district didn't just examine recruiting practices.

Baseball Coach Mark Chandler is being scrutinized again for the way he's  handled funds for his baseball teams at two high schools -- first Sahuaro and then Sabino. 
In 2015, the district reprimanded Chandler for misusing district and booster club funds while at Sahuaro High. After the investigation, he was forced to reimburse the district and hand over his debit card to the booster club.  

KGUN9 asked Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo -- isn't that theft for any staff member? 

"I will refer you to governing board policy GBEA in regard to staff ethics, which requires staff members to put personal and professional ethics at the forefront of everything," Trujillo answered.

The policy lists ethical standards, but gives no consequences for violations.

Chandler moved to the Sabino baseball team and the complaint to the AIA alleges he again misused booster funds.

KGUN9 asked the superintendent if the district also investigated the coach's financial practices.

"Yes, that is one of the allegations that we investigated. I won't be commenting again on personnel matters or the results of that specific finding. I will only state that the allegations, one of the accusations concern the handling of booster club monies," said Trujillo.

KGUN9 obtained the same documents that had been handed over to the district.

One example shows Chandler giving instruction on how to "pay a coach out of booster (funds) and bypass club/tax." Chandler wrote, "just give the coach a title such as equipment manager, etc."

A document of Booster Club Meeting Minutes confirms the booster club "paid for the equipment manager -- (assistant coach Jason Fallwell) 1800."  

The 2015 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.

KGUN9 obtained Chandler's personnel records. Documents show he violated AIA rules in 2005 when he "used a player for a varsity game and a junior varsity game during the same week," which resulted in the games against Mountain View being forfeited. Records show Chandler received a "Letter of Direction" after directed "pitchers who were to thrown on Mondays and Tuesdays to throw on Sundays" violating the "spirit" of AIA rules. 

The district will now send the findings to the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board. 

Trujillo said he's scheduled to address that board in it's open meeting on  September 12th -- then the AIA members will review and discuss the findings in Executive Session. 

The TUSD board can decide after the A-I-A decision whether it will release any information to the public.

KGUN9 reached out to Coach Chandler for an interview. He agreed, but told us he will wait until the AIA investigation is compete.