2013-11-29 / Front Page

School clears coach, baseball program of foul play

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

The Scarborough High School administration has completed its investigation into whether the baseball program broke Maine Principals’ Association rules when it began organizing an off-season training program at the Edge Academy in Portland.

The issue came to the attention of Scarborough High School Principal David Creech last week after he received an anonymous letter about the off-season training regimen. Also included in the correspondence was a letter Todd Welsh Sr., boosters vice president, sent to Scarborough baseball players alerting them to the off-season workout plan he was designing with varsity baseball coach Ryan Jones, who works part-time at the Edge Academy.

Creech, as high school principal, has the responsibility to interpret and enforce the sports season policy, met with Superintendent George Entwistle and Athletic Director Mike LeGage after receiving the letter.

LeGage led the investigation, which started Wednesday, Nov. 20 and wrapped up Tuesday, Nov. 26.

“Based on Mike’s investigation, we determined the Scarborough varsity baseball coach and the Scarborough baseball program was not involved in any inappropriate activities or inappropriate actions,” Creech said Tuesday afternoon.

While Jones and the baseball program were cleared by the school, Welsh and the boosters were not. Creech said Welsh sent an “inappropriate letter” and “misrepresented the high school baseball program.”

Welsh has since authored a letter of apology, indicating that he did not talk to Jones about the proposed workout, nor did he consult with Jones, LeGage or the boosters prior to sending out the email correspondance to players.

“This was sent in an effort to provide information about a training program for our athletes,” Welsh wrote. “It was not my intention to push anyone into this program and the coach was not involved. The language I used in my email was an effort to encourage involvement, at no time have I had any conversation with Coach Jones about out-of-season training. I want to publicly apologize to coach Jones for writing this email in a way that was perceived to be information coming from him—it certainly was not.”

“It is important to acknowledge my mistake, but I hope the boosters and Scarborough baseball community can move forward in a manner that promotes a culture of support, empathy and kindness as we work cooperatively to help our children reach their full potential,” Welsh went on to write.

Welsh’s winter training program recruitment letter, indicated players would be “throwing, fielding, ground balls, base-running, playing out game situations” on Saturday afternoons from Jan. 11 to March 29. The players “will be working on hitting in the cages getting instruction and feedback to help them grow at the plate.”

The letter indicates priority would be given to “players that were in high school last year” and that Welsh hoped that “we get a solid turnout from all the eligible Scarborough High School baseball players for the 2014 season.

Creech said the administration “interpreted” Welsh’s correspondence with players, “as an MPA violation.”

A copy of LeGage’s findings, Creech said, has been shared with the MPA’s interscholastic management committee.

“Unless the MPA decided we need to take further action, we consider the investigation now closed,” Creech said.

MPA executive director Dick Durost said he is reserving comment until LeGage’s report is in hand.

“We have not received their report yet, including any action they might choose to take,” he told the Leader in a Nov. 27 email. “Until we receive that report, we will have no further comment.”

While the MPA is holding back on comment now, Mike Burnham, an assistant director of the MPA, called the winter training program letter a “blatant violation of the sports season policy,” in a Nov. 20 email to the Leader.

Violations of the policy occur when schools “permit a team or individuals to play or practice a sport outside the sport’s season through use of high school equipment including facilities, provision of transportation by the school or school-affiliated organization, or use the school name for out-of-season activities.”

Booster groups, according to the MPA, “are an extension of the athletic program and, therefore, are subject to the restrictions of the sports season policy.”

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