Boosters Allegedly Funneled Money to Coaches

Posted at 10:16 AM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 11:47:02-04

The Football Boosters at Blackman High School allegedly used a separate bank account to provide cash and purchase gift cards for the football coaches, according to comptroller investigators.

Officials said text messages appeared to point to suspicious activity.

Investigators said the account was opened eight days after a policy was approved by the Rutherford County Board of Education which required salaries and supplemental payments from school support organizations to be paid through the school department’s payroll system.

According to reports, $96,415.69 was identified as unauthorized coaches’ supplements and other questionable transactions. Those transactions took place between June 16, 2011 and March 27, 2015.

Officials said these disbursements came from both the boosters’ main account and the additional account.

Investigators said the former head football coach resigned March 27, 2015.

Many checks were allegedly written to “Cash.” The memo lines had descriptions like “coaches supplement,” “summer $$ #2,” “summer $ - final,” and “gift cards.”

Authorities confirmed other checks were written directly to coaches.

According to those with the booster club, the former head football coach allegedly directed them to provide cash and gift cards for himself, assistant coaches, and others.

Investigators said the former coach denied receiving cash from the boosters other than reimbursements.

Also in question was $69,649.42 in fuel payments made by Blackman High School to a local gas station.

Authorities said $9,930.98 of that money was used for fuel purchased by the former head football coach or members of his family.

However, investigators said they could not determine if the fuel was used for school-related or personal purposes.

“Booster clubs are required to follow some basic rules to ensure that money is being handled appropriately,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Our investigators determined that many of these requirements were not being met. I’ve noted the booster club accounts have now been closed, and the remaining funds have been deposited to the school account.”

Officials said the findings and recommendations in the investigative report have been reviewed with the district attorney general.

Thursday, officials with Rutherford County Schools released the following information in regards to the investigation:

  • Dr. Leisa Justus became principal of Blackman High School in June 2014, and a few months afterward, notified the district’s accounting office of questionable accounting issues related to the football booster club program.
  • Dr. Justus took steps to correct the accounting issues immediately and moved booster club funds into the school’s account to ensure proper financial and policy oversight, which is stated in the Comptroller’s report. 
  • The district’s accounting office notified the Tennessee Comptroller’s office of the questionable accounting issues immediately. The district has cooperated with the Comptroller’s office fully during its lengthy investigation.

To view the full investigation, click here.