November 22, 2013

Offseason coaching push sparks probe, controversy in Scarborough

The superintendent is investigating a possible conflict of interest after players are urged to attend a private facility where their baseball coach teaches.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Mark Emmert memmert@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Scarborough’s school superintendent has ordered an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving the high school’s varsity baseball coach, who also teaches at a private sports facility that his players are being urged to attend.

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Training at centers like the Edge Academy in Portland has become a popular way for serious high school athletes to hone their skills year-round and get individual instruction.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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PDF: E-mail to players about baseball training

Superintendent George Entwistle III said Thursday that he asked the school’s principal and athletic director to look into an email that was sent to returning and prospective players, urging them to train this winter at the Edge Academy in Portland at a cost of $275 per player. Scarborough baseball coach Ryan Jones works there as a private coach, and the former Scarborough baseball coach is a part-owner.

School officials received an anonymous letter this week complaining about the arrangement. “Many parents in Scarborough are very concerned about the apparent conflict of interest that is blatantly being displayed between the Edge Academy in Portland and the Scarborough High School baseball program,” reads the letter, which was mailed to Entwistle, several school board members, the school principal, the state Department of Education and several journalists. The two-page letter is signed “Concerned Parents.”

The email sent to players and signed by Todd Welsh Sr., vice president of the team’s booster club, begins, “We are ready to take names for this winters (sic) Baseball Training program.” It says: “I have been working with varsity baseball coach Ryan Jones to layout (sic) a solid winter training program.” The email goes on to say, in red type, that “we hope that we can get a solid turnout from all eligible Scarborough High School baseball players for the 2014 season.”

The email does not say that the winter training is required for a player to be considered for the team, but indicates that it is a new program for the team.

“This year we will have a new small Indoor Dome at Jokers (recreation center) for one hour and then in the cages hitting for one half-hour at the Edge Academy,” the email reads. “After I have the list of players, I will work with the Edge Academy to accommodate as many as we can.”

No other winter training locations or options are mentioned in Welsh’s email. Welsh notes that “Ryan wants the Scarborough player to come out of the box in the spring conditioned, giving Scarborough a physical and mental edge.”

POLICY ON WHO INSTRUCTS PLAYERS

Training at centers like the Edge Academy has become a popular way for serious high school athletes to hone their skills year-round. The centers typically offer individual instruction and serve entire teams. For example, the Edge Academy expects to have eight high school baseball and softball teams working out there this winter.

Critics say that such centers could eliminate athletes whose families can’t afford to pay for the training, and that some coaches may base roster spots and playing time on who attends the offseason workouts.

Coach Jones did not return a call for comment Thursday. But Nick Caiazzo, who directs baseball operations at the Edge Academy, said Jones has no involvement in the instruction of Scarborough players. He said the school has been sending 15 to 18 players to his facility each winter for the past eight or nine years, and he is working directly with Welsh to develop the training regimen.

Jones has been head baseball coach at Scarborough for two years and has worked at the Edge Academy for four.

“Ryan Jones has absolutely nothing, from my standpoint, to do with this program,” said Caiazzo, one of seven co-owners of the Edge Academy. “We have lots of coaches working here. It’s something that we have to be very, very cognitive of, that they can’t be involved in the instruction of their own players.”

(Continued on page 2)

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