HIGHLAND, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The former football coach at Lone Peak High School is facing some controversial claims. But did the coach really break the law? ABC 4’s Brian Carlson investigates.
Former Football Coach Tony McGeary at Lone Peak High School is in the middle of a financial scandal.
"I was shocked, I was like is this really happening?" said Sawyer Mullane, Sophomore player #20.
His players couldn't believe it. Monday the championship coach quit after a 42 page complaint emerged claiming McGeary illegally profited from the team. The documents show McGeary overcharged players for a training camp at Utah State University Eastern, formerly known as College of Eastern Utah, and pocketed $5,735.
But did McGeary really violate the law?
Thursday Reporter Brian Carlson called USU Eastern to find out. Carlson was told at least 4-6 high schools regularly hold camps at USU Eastern, including East High School and Bingham High. A spokesperson said McGeary isn't the only one who overcharges his players.
"They have an amount of money that's charged for the camp itself, but then there are other charges that are associated with the camp. The one that comes to mind most quickly is they all have to pay transportation. So they have to charge a bus fee on top of that," said Brad King, Vice Chancellor, USU Eastern.
But that doesn't mean McGeary is off the hook. Carlson talked to an attorney with the Utah State Office of Education. She said it doesn't matter how many other coaches did it. She opened up the Utah State Code and explained if McGeary used his job as a coach to advertise the camp and then pocketed money from players, he broke the law.
"The coach is essentially paid based on how may students he recruits. And I don't think that's very complicated to work through," said Carol Lear, Attorney, Utah State Office of Education.
In McGeary’s resignation letter he said he didn't do anything wrong.
"I believe I have handled every aspect regarding finances for our program with the utmost integrity and character," said McGeary.
So maybe McGeary didn't know any better. But when Carlson asked the Alpine School District if the coach knew the rules, they say he did.
"Was coach McGeary trained and educated on what the policies were?” Carlson asked.
“Yes. Yes he was, as were all the coaches in the district and athletic directors," said Rhonda Bromley, Alpine School District Spokesperson.
The 42 page complaint suggests McGeary committed a 2nd degree felony by profiting more than $1,000. However, Lear said if McGeary was charged with a crime, prosecutors would have to prove his intent by pocketing money from players.
Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @tv_briancarlson