2011- The Year the Victims Spoke Up!

Time Magazine named ‘The Protestor’ their person of the year. An interesting choice and clearly based on the fact that protestors brought attention to issues from Libya to Occupy Wall Street and insisted on change.

Less visible protestors sought change as well:  A young college student worked tirelessly to gain support from thousands as she acted to compel big banks to drop newly imposed fees. And the people who finally had the courage to speak up about Penn State and Syracuse brought attention to the problems that have existed in sports for years.

Those who spoke up before against financial crimes of people like Bernie Madoff,  finally saw some justice in 2011, but the suicide of Madoff’s own son gave us pause to realize that victims are not always those we see as  directly impacted by wrong doing.

The courage of the Penn State and Syracuse victims has prompted society to insist on better. Their courage has allowed us to refuse to accept the status quo of sports legacies and institutions. Their efforts have ripped through sports programs , universities , high schools and clubs across the country. We hope their courage will not be in vain , but will continue to provide strength for others to speak up and for all of us to act and do  the right thing in 2012 and beyond.

We hope 2012 will be the year that we address the structure of institutions that is flawed, not the single coach who acts badly. We hope 2012 will be the year when people stop acting busy and start acting for the  greater good of humanity.

Veil Should be lifted on Organizations and Individuals Who Protect Abusive Coaches

Today’s San Jose Mercury article brings attention to the “side effects” of the Penn Case and suggests it lifts a veil on abusive coaches http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19566242.

However, we have seen that the veil cannot truly be lifted until it is lifted on the organizations , individuals and institutions that provide a safe haven for coaches who have the potential and ability to abuse youth who participate in athletics. If any good is to come of the Penn State case, we hope it will not be in the form of more victims being urged to come forward, but rather in tightening laws and bringing more scrutiny to a culture where abuse is suspected , observed and allowed to thrive. Victims should not have to come forward to get this done. It is time for highly compensated individuals to be held more accountable and responsible for protecting our youth. It is time to allow volunteers to safely bring matters forward. It is time to create a structure and culture where victims have more protection than abusers. It is time to enforce the mandates to report rather than let issues be swept off a busy agenda because they are vague or uncomfortable. This is endemic in all youth sports programs whether it is discussed , regulated or enforced, or not . It is time to make it stop and change the culture.

 

Are CCS- CIF Officials Breaking California Sex Abuse Reporting Laws?

California has very specific laws that attempt to prevent potential sex abuse of minors. Such laws are necessary as people who abuse children lack internal controls for various reasons, so external controls become even more   critical and necessary to protect our youth.
In theory, the CIF /CCS structure offers a sound external control to protect minor children from abuse as they pursue athletic opportunities.  However, if individuals involved in the organization fail to act properly or ignore their legal obligations, then they in fact fail to  provide those external controls.

Under Penal Code Section : 11165-11174.3 – every individual associated with  either CCS or CIF  in any capacity has a legal mandate to report the following:

  1. Physical injury  inflicted by other than accidental means on a child
  2. Child Sex abuse ( huge range of definition )
  3. Willful cruelty of unjustified punishment
  4. Unlawful corporal punishment
  5. Neglect- including acts of omissions harming or threatening to harm the child’s welfare

We have seen evidence that on numerous occasions CIF /CCS officials and individuals involved in the organizations have failed to report as legally obligated. We have also seen  CIF and CCS officials retain legal services to prevent the  disclosure of information that should be readily available under the Brown Act and obstruct  complaints related to sex abuse from being properly filed with either organization. We find these acts of placing the interests of the institutions over the safety of the minor children deplorable.

It has been clearly conveyed to CCS and CIF on numerous occasions that abuse is present and assistance was requested to properly bring the matter forward. The requests have been denied or ignored. When the school involved was asked for a formal procedure to allow a report to be made, no answer was given. When CCS was asked for a policy that would provide for victims to come forward without facing possible retaliation or lost opportunity, no policy was provided. When families objected to the informal complaint process that was offered based on the fact that the process itself demonstrated a conflict of interest, no other assistance was provided by CCS or CIF officials.

In the meantime, CIF and CCS continue to rack up substantial legal bills defending a flawed structure and misconduct of their employees. These legal bills will of course be imposed on member schools that simply do not have the funds available to pay for such negligence.

Based on the events that have unfolded in the Penn State case, we find it unconscionable  that CIF and CCS officials would obstruct any information or individual that wished to bring forward information that sex abuse may be present in either organization.

Below is a link to assist those in the organization with information which  may not have been be properly provided  by CIF and CCS during the course of employment or association with the organizations.

http://www.dominican.edu/about/forfaculty/file/childabuselaw.pdf

Year End Donations for High School Athletes and Athletic Programs – Think Twice before giving to CCS or CIF

This is a busy time of year as businesses and individuals face year-end tax decisions related to their corporate and personal philanthropic donations. Across the country donations are down and deserving charities are struggling to stay afloat. In fact everything is down; wages, housing, 401Ks, school budgets,  and personal income – EXCEPT budgets for the  agencies that oversee high school sports programs  here in the Central Coast Section. Salaries for the  very few who manage these organizations, along with their office expenses,  rent , expense accounts and professional expenditures are way way up!

The Better Business Bureau’s standards for accountability dictate that a charity should spend at least 65% of its total expenditures on program activities. CCS and CIF are grossly out of line with these standards, spending less than 1% on awards or scholarships for athletes or administrative training.   For example in 2007/08 CCS collected $35,000 in sponsorship dollars, yet spent less than $4,000 on athletic awards. But that isn’t the entire story. Income in that same year for the Central Coast Section was $794,278. So if the money didn’t come from sponsors where did it come from and where did it go? $161,000 came from “sports fees “ charged to struggling member schools . Such fees are required by the CCS organization   to cover staff salaries and benefits , auto expenses, rent ,  office expenses   and other professional fees that result from the Section’s management . Schools were also charged $69,380 just to be members of CCS. And $483,000 came from events themselves; as parents , friends, supporters and athletes paid  gate fees or bought t-shirts during CCS events.

CIF and CCS Sponsors in the past have included:

Farmers Insurance        Sports Authority

Les Schwab                        CCPOA

Max Preps                          Herff Jones

Balfour                               Jostens

In 2007/08 CCS received $35,000 from these sponsors and in 2010/11 $42,000 was received . So sponsor dollars in the CCS organization are in fact up and while the intent of these companies has been to support high school athletics, they may want to reconsider how they continue to do that in the future. Perhaps donations could be made with stipulations such that gate fees are reduced or paid for families of athletes, donations could be made directly  to schools in the form of unrestricted gifts for athletic programs or scholarships could be crated in the business name that would provide a greater benefit to individual athletes or scholar athletes who demonstrate specific performance or character the business wishes to recognize.  Any  of these options would certainly give businesses more bang for their donation bucks and more direct exposure, rather than having their dollars buried in an organization and ultimately spent on excessive salaries and benefits.

2010-11  didn’t get any better for most  families, or  schools in California . And as businesses continue to struggle to maintain payrolls and benefits for their employees,  CCS  continues to enjoy increased salaries and benefits and increasing expenses.  In 2010/11 CCS expenses grew to $829,655.  “Sports Fees” charged to member schools  grew to $246,960 to  cover  rent increases ( from $60,000 to $78,000), salary and benefit  increases ( now up over $600K ) and  we can find no evidence that CCS attempted to contain or reduce any discretionary  expenses. This simply is unsustainable and threatens the financial viability of high school athletics for every athlete and program in the Central Coast Section.

So we encourage all generous sponsors to find new ways to support high school athletes and athletic programs  now and in the upcoming year. We encourage businesses to add morality clauses or make donations directly to schools,  programs and athletes where  funding is  needed most and is the most deserved.

California Lawmakers called to help prevent sex abuse in high school sports and athletic programs

We applaud the efforts of two California lawmakers to propose tougher laws that would protect minor athletes in the state of California and we call on lawmakers in Northern California across both party lines to join them! While State Sen. Juan Vargas recently stated that his efforts were to ensure that California didn’t have another issue like Penn State, we submit that it probably already does and we need to  change the structure and culture that makes sex abuse in high school athletics possible. The structure and culture created by the individuals currently in charge of high school athletics is toxic and flawed. We are aware of too many cases where people looked the other way o r failed to act in the absence of a law requiring them to do so. It is unfortunate that laws are required to make people do the right thing.

Currently, coaches  have an obligation to report,but rarely do and the culture of sports seems to encourage them not to,  parents have no entrance to report and the code of the kids is to keep silent so they have their opportunities to play. Shame on every adult that knew something could be possible and did nothing. Shame on every individual who  was silent and let the culture and management of our high school athletics create a place not only where abuse is likely, it is present. We are aware of four complaints about to be filed with CIF and CCS. We hope the governing boards and individuals who become aware of these complaints will act properly and address the hard issues instead of allowing the current culture and historical behavior of existing management to continue.

As the focus and attention in the Pen State case intensifies on the coach and victims- we have to ask …….. How many other people knew or thought it was possible and failed to act? How many more victims are out there that simply cannot come forward? And how many similar stories are going on here in high school sports in CIF’s Central Coast Section.

Complaints for Santa Clara County Grand Jury realted to Financial Misconduct in CCS

Has CCS been overspending and misusing public school funds ? The following link is the 2008 -2009 Santa Clara County Grand Jury Report related to public school finances in Santa Clara County. The report fails to recognize that CCS/CIF places financial burdens on local school districts that take education dollars out of the classroom as well. In 2008-2009 the Grand Jury was shocked at some of the compensation packages of school administrators and board members. Those packages look like chump change when compared to the CCS Commissioner’s salary , expenses, retirement package and office expenses. In addition , member schools are clearly paying top dollar for bad management . The CCS staff that earns such hefty paychecks have failed more than 30% of the time to file their own payroll reports in a timely manner as required . The CCS staff has incurred large legal and accounting fees to manage the audits for their own retirement packages and member schools have no outlet to reasonably control these costs. Upon review of CCS financial reports, CIF financial procedures and a 2010 CalPERS audit we find that misconduct in the finances of CCS is not only present, it also serves to expose member schools to additional financial risks as legal and accounting fees soar to address mismanagement. We call on CCS board and committee members to be mindful of their fiduciary responsibility and take action to reduce financial risks for member schools that simply cannot afford these escalating costs and associated risks.

http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/civil/cgj/2009/EducationDollars.pdf

 

 

Complaints of Abuse, Misconduct and Obstruction Soon to be Filed

For two months CCS Watchdog has been trying to assist individuals  in filing complaints related to  misconduct both within the CCS organization and as enabled by CCS officials.  One complaint involves alleged abuse of minor female athletes by a coach who remains actively involved both in a CCS member school and within the CCS organization.   In the alleged abuse case, CCS could have acted on recruiting and eligibility issues related to 8th grade students such that the coach’s activities would not be allowed to continue, however, CCS failed to act on this coach and he has continued in his capacity both at the member school and with increasing authority in the CCS organization. Additionally, evidence in this compliant will demonstrate  CCS has acted without equity  in their enforcement of CIF policies on member schools , using their subjective authority to do so, and may have in fact tainted both CCS Championships and unfairly managed athletic opportunities for all schools and athletes in the Section .

In a second complaint individuals have attempted to report that the Commissioner herself may have acted improperly when her own child participated in sports which the Commissioner was responsible for overseeing. Did the Commissioner’s daughter or teammates and friends get more visibility or favorable calls at the expense of more deserving athletes? If the Commissioner’s daughter had more access to college recruiters or scholarships, that would have ultimately been for the Commissioner’s personal gain as a parent and would constitute criminal misconduct at best. CCS has ignored our requests to provide transparency to assure that such misconduct could not have taken place, that a Chinese Wall is in place to prevent the appearance of such misconduct.  And when individuals have tried to prepare complaints, they have been forced to deal with the Commissioner herself who has responded in a forceful, retaliatory and intimidating tone; discouraging complaints from being filed.  Evidence suggests  that such misconduct did take place and that the Commissioner additionally used her authority to intimidate member schools and individuals from coming forward to report it.

Finally, CCS Watchdog has tried on numerous occasions to contact CIF and CCS officials requesting additional information that would support at least three separate claims. The organizations have  repeatedly stalled, hired lawyers and failed to “assist” in providing the information as they are legally obligated. Thus, both CIF and CCS have deliberately obstructed CCS watchdog’s ability to file a proper compliant.   In addition to complaints that will be filed directly with CCS and CIF, CCS Watchdog is aware that complaints are being prepared to file with several Grand Juries in multiple counties within the CCS   region. If the complaints are investigated properly, the abuse and even criminal conduct will become publically exposed; CCS and CIF actions in attempting to obstruct this process will certainly come to light as well.

When the complaints are filed with CCS and CIF, we will remind the boards and committees of how Penn State’s failure to act on informal complaints and their failure to provide a fair and neutral procedure for complaints to be filed has resulted in years of more abuse to countless victims and has jeopardized not only the integrity of the sports programs, but the educational institutions as well. We remind individuals to speak up for right, not to preserve flawed policies, institutions or individuals who may be acting improperly. Our high school programs feed the collegiate programs and it is up to our Section and state organizations to see to it they are managed properly,  fairly and with integrity.