High School Baseball

Former Dunbar coach faces felony charges

Former Paul Dunbar High School baseball coach Mickey Marshall is facing three felony charges of theft “by failure to make a required disposition” involving $12,500 in checks that officials in the baseball booster club and a donor wrote to him.

The charges essentially allege that Marshall did not use the money as the booster club intended.

Booster clubs, made up of parents and coaches, are private organizations that support the activities of sports, cheerleading and bands in the Fayette County public schools by raising millions of dollars for equipment, travel and other expenses.

“There was nothing done with the intent of doing anything underhanded or criminal,” said Marshall, 38, who coached the team to state championships in 2003 and 2007.

However, he said, “It's my word against their word.”

Marshall, who teaches at Dixie Elementary Magnet School, was suspended from coaching and teaching in May pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Larry Poynter, who coached Bryan Station's baseball team for the last four years, was hired to replace Marshall at Dunbar on Thursday.

A criminal complaint filed July 22 by Lexington Police Detective C. S. Simms alleges that on three separate occasions, Marshall took money allocated for specific uses and used it for himself.

The three incidents alleged are:

■ On October 8, 2007, Marshall obtained a $4,000 check from the Dunbar Baseball Boosters Club “knowing it was for payment for a scoreboard.”

■ On Sept, 7, 2007, Marshall kept a $6,500 check from the booster club that was intended to pay other coaches' salaries.

■ And on Dec. 31, 2007, he used a $2,000 check intended for a baseball trip.

The case was referred to police by some members of the Dunbar baseball booster club, according to Randy Burke, president of the club.

Burke said Marshall indicated he was repaying a person who lent the booster club $4,000 for the scoreboard. However, Burke said, Marshall did not do that.

He said the booster club wrote Marshall checks for specific purposes that Marshall did not carry out.

“We knew something was wrong,” Burke said.

As coach, Marshall was the booster club's CEO under the group's old guidelines, Burke said, but those bylaws have been rewritten since the 2007 incidents so that booster club members have more oversight.

Marshall denied Burke's account and said that the person who donated money for the scoreboard had been paid back and that the $2,000 from a donor and the $6,500 from the booster club was used for travel and other expenses when he and three assistant coaches went to Philadelphia for a conference.

Marshall said that he and the person who lent the booster club money now disagree about what happened. Marshall said that as CEO, he did not have the ability to write checks and that the booster club board approved all expenditures.

Marshall will be arraigned in Fayette District Court on Aug. 7.

Fayette County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Marshall's suspension with pay from his teaching position at Dixie will be “while we monitor his criminal case, which is now in the courts.”

In 2005, a series of Herald-Leader stories detailed the lax oversight of booster club money in Fayette County schools.

In the previous school year, the clubs had raised nearly $3 million through activities such as bingo, car washes and from the pockets of parents.

After those stories, the Fayette school district convened a task force to study how booster clubs could operate more efficiently.

As a result, Deffendall said, several improvements were made, including having a district athletic director work with booster clubs, other school athletic directors and coaches to make sure guidelines are met.

Booster club members also receive mandatory training about district policies, she said.

“We have very strong policies, procedures and guidelines in place that govern finances and athletics in the district,” Deffendall said.

We review our policies every year and we will monitor this criminal case and take the outcome into consideration during our annual review.”