San Diego’s Lincoln High School basketball program improperly used thousands of dollars earmarked for the student body on championship rings, a Hawaii tournament, and coach’s expenses, San Diego school officials said in an audit of the program’s basketball club.
School officials, including Hornets head coach Jason Bryant, said the issues have been resolved with stricter accounting controls and new administrators.
The money in question was Associated Student Body funds, collected with fundraising activities and reserved by district policy for expenditures that benefit the student body as a whole.
The audit found:
• The basketball program used thousands of dollars of student-body funds on Bryant’s travel and conference expenses and $7,000 for CIF championship rings for players and coaches.
• The program used $2,000 to help pay for a tournament in Hawaii, which the district approved under the impression the trip was being paid for by corporate sponsors.
• The club improperly sought $7,500 in reimbursement from the district for referee fees, even after the costs had been paid from game ticket revenue.
• The program did not maintain records of distribution of Nike products received as part of a sponsorship from the shoe company. Additionally, Bryant received 10 extra shoes, selling three or four pairs to members of the JV team and giving away some of the donated items.
“Proper accountability was not established,” the audit said, noting “a failure to comply to district policy and procedure designed to protect the interests of the students and integrity of the ASB.”
Lincoln’s basketball program has been among the region’s most successful under Bryant, winning back-to-back CIF-San Diego Div. II titles in 2010 and 2011.
San Diego’s audit and finance department has zeroed in on misuse of ASB funds in recent years, as a number of schools have been criticized for loose financial control of student-body money.
In a response to the district, Lincoln administrators said that both Bryant and the school’s financial director would receive warning letters in their files and that the misused funds would be reimbursed. In addition, the school has vowed for tighter financial controls and communication with district auditors.
“We have a new administration and a direct line of communication with the district auditors,” Bryant said. “These weren’t in place before, so now we will run things by (the office) and get things done here to make sure that everything is aboveboard and legal.”
Bryant said he didn’t realize he was misusing the money because the school’s previous administrators and the finance director signed off on the activities. He said he was very concerned with the findings and would “do everything in his power” to correct the issues.
“Anytime you are a coach at a school whose emphasis has always been for the kids to have the best of everything and access to everything we can offer, and something like this happens, it causes great concern,” Bryant said. “We didn’t know what we were doing was wrong; and in no way shape or form did I mean any malice or ill intent for any of the kids.”"