November 27, 2013

Scarborough baseball booster apologizes for training email

His push for Scarborough High players to attend off-season practice led to a probe of the coach, who has been cleared.

By Mark Emmert memmert@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Scarborough High School officials have determined that their baseball coach had no involvement in setting up an off-season workout program for his players, and the booster club officer whose email prompted the investigation has issued an apology.

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Scarborough baseball coach Ryan Jones works as an instructor at the Edge Academy in Portland.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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A controversy flared last week after Todd Welsh Sr., vice president of the baseball boosters club, sent an email to about 50 players encouraging them to spend $275 each for 10 Saturday training sessions at the Edge Academy in Portland, where Scarborough baseball coach Ryan Jones works as an instructor.

Superintendent George Entwistle III received an anonymous email from parents complaining that the price was excessive and that the program represented a conflict of interest for Jones.

Welsh’s email had indicated that Jones participated in arranging the training, which would violate Maine Principals’ Association rules regarding contact between coaches and players in the off-season.

However, Scarborough Athletic Director Mike LeGage led an investigation into the matter and concluded that Jones was not involved, Principal David Creech said Tuesday. The probe did show that Welsh “sent an inappropriate email and misrepresented the program.”

The school has sent its findings to the Maine Principals’ Association and considers the matter closed, Creech said.

Welsh wrote a follow-up email Tuesday to the same group of baseball players and parents, essentially retracting what he had said about working with Jones on the program and apologizing for his choice of wording.

“I was uneducated in the rules of what everyone was doing,” Welsh wrote. “I made a big mistake. It’s just a program that every kid can go do, and the program can only take 15 kids. I just wanted to get kids out there and know that they had the opportunity to do it, and I wanted to get them excited about next season.”

LeGage said he did not order Welsh to write the second email, but “he needed to make the correction to what was sent out.”

Welsh said that invoking Jones’ name was his biggest error, and that, in fact, he has not spoken to Jones since the 2013 baseball season ended in June.

“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,” Welsh wrote in his follow-up email. “I want to be perfectly clear that I did not consult with the Boosters, Coach Jones or Mr. LeGage the Athletic Director when drafting the letter or on my decision to send it out to everyone.“

Welsh said in an interview that he didn’t understand why parents complained. He said his own son wasn’t even going to participate in the sessions at the Edge Academy, noting that he’s spending $1,875 this winter to have him practice at the Parisi training center in Saco instead.

“It’s just people trying to be politically correct. I don’t get it,” Welsh said. “Baseball is one of those things you can’t hide. It’s a performance-based thing. Either you’re hitting or you’re not. Either the ball’s going between your legs or it’s not. There isn’t any favoritism. You’re measured so drastically.”

As for the $275 cost, Welsh said, “This thing I negotiated, it’s right down to the bare minimum. Just to rent a (batting) cage is $35 for a half-hour. This is cheap. I worked really hard grinding them down on that cost. They did me a solid there.”

Welsh said he is not involved in signing up the athletes and is leaving that up to individual students and the Edge Academy.

He said he was surprised by the reaction to his original email, and has learned a lesson.

“I hid for, like, four days,” he said. “I’ve kind of pulled myself out of (the training program).”

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

memmert@pressherald.com

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