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Timpview High controversy could lead to statewide changes after audit reveals money problems

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  • UtahBruin Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 20, 2012 2:45 p.m.

    "No other administrator has been disciplined"

    If this is really true, then why the new Principal? Why did one of the Vice Principals get moved from Timpview to a new location (Provo Youth Corrections). Just my opinion, but when someone ask that the termination be taken back so they can resign to quit the personal attacks or investigation so they "Can move on" bleeds guilty. Sorry Wong, you are a great FB Coach, no question, but if that was really the case and you are innocent then you should have resigned a long time ago. This whole things is fishy, and I think the majority of the stink comes from the Provo School District.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2012 2:55 p.m.

    Wow! I'm all for being accurate, but a $10k discrepancy over 5 years and raising $5million seems like much ado about nothing.

    Yes, all you sticklers out there who want to thrown stones in your glass houses can have a field day, but in the big picture this is insignificant.

  • plyxply SLC, UT
    June 20, 2012 3:49 p.m.

    A perfect example of a witch-hunt by the school board turning up barely anything. It's amazing that with the back-room, underhanded dealings of our public officials they choose to go after a high school football coach who actually does something positive within the community. These school board folks need to be replaced, fired, voted out, whatever. They think they are untouchable but this will come back to bite every one of them, karma folks, karma.

  • homers Provo, UT
    June 20, 2012 4:04 p.m.

    I think that $9,000 not deposited and the practice of comingling funds in private accounts is a very big deal. I think it should have been investigated and I am glad it was. I feel bad that the former Superintendent was crucified for even suggesting that the situation should have been investigated. I talked to him the other day and asked him if he felt vindicated. He simply answered that he was sad that it all caused so much division and that it was interpreted as a "get Wong" effort. I think that if everyone would have been willing to wait for the facts to come out and then allowed the decision to be made dispassionately that perhaps we would still have both Merrill and Wong who were both doing very good work in my observation. Those who felt so loyal to Coach Wong that they were unable to be objective threw a hand grenade into the process and blew it all up.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    June 20, 2012 4:33 p.m.

    Anyone who is responsible for a budget, and taking care of money, knows that you keep track of every penny.
    And you have everything require two signature to back each other up, and take away all tempatation and suspicion .
    Wong is a college educated man, he knew better.
    now his name is stained and he can not prove what happened to the money.

  • guitarboy South Jordan, UT
    June 20, 2012 4:47 p.m.

    homers -- hard to find valid reasoning in your post.

    "I feel bad that the former Superintendent was crucified for even suggesting that the situation should have been investigated."
    --->???The district did not merely suggest an investigation. It FIRED coach Wong.

    "[The Superintendent said] he was sad that it all caused so much division and that it was interpreted as a 'get Wong' effort."
    --->He didn't want it interpreted as a "get Wong" effort?!! The district FIRED coach Wong! How else can it be interpreted?!!

    "I think that if everyone would have been willing to wait for the facts to come out and then allowed the decision to be made dispassionately that perhaps we would still have both Merrill and Wong."
    --->The district FIRED coach Wong! That is why we don't have coach Wong! It had nothing to do with the public failing to "wait."

    The audit concludes the district failed in almost every way: Failed to have clear policy and procedure. Failed to train. Failed to communicate money handling standards. Failed to establish "adequate policies."

    In the PSD, how do you spell scapegoat? W-O-N-G.

    PSD = incompetence (apparently)

    Why did they fire the coach?

  • Wyomex Burlington, WY
    June 20, 2012 4:50 p.m.

    Another example of mistaking a Principle - “bearing fruit” for a Policy - “counting beans.”

    Without putting too fine a point on it, Mr. Wong was hired as a coach, not an accountant. His coaching bore exceptional fruit. Those nearest him: students, staff, parents can attest to his integrity. Those farthest from him cry foul.

    NERDY (Never Ending Reports Due Yesterday), a white-collar “make work” organization, exists in almost every government bureaucracy to slow down and distract exceptional "fruit producers."
    Its motto seems to be: “If you wanna amount to something, you gotta count to something” and its mantra: “We know how to cut red tape...lengthwise, with a dull butter knife.”

    More, much more, was spent in capital - human and financial, for audits and district grief than was ever "not accounted for" or deposited.

    Dear investigative reporter: How much time and money was spent on the audits?

  • satch Highland, UT
    June 20, 2012 5:22 p.m.

    I agree this was much ado about nothing. Coach Wong was not embezzling money!

    Much like other over worked coaches and teachers, they do their best at accounting. It's not that these people are making a killing working these extra hours. I am sure Coach Wong or the Timpview environment was not conducive to good accounting practices so put the blame on all parties.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 20, 2012 5:31 p.m.

    Wow. Shouldn't schools focus on academic pursuits, and extricate paid sports from the entire process?

  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    June 20, 2012 5:46 p.m.

    homers,

    I have yet to talk to a PSD employee that is sad about the change of superintendent. The last one made sure he got his retirement all set up before leaving. Meanwhile, the vast majority of employees in the district are not going to get the retirement the district promised them when they got hired. The good old boys conveniently grandfathered themselves in while cutting retirement for all of the younger employees. Take a look at the "negotiations" that took place each year with the former superintendent. Each year something more was cut from the teachers while new program after new program was implemented.

    PSD is a big mess right now which is sad because it used to be THE place to get a teaching job. The teachers I have talked with have very high hopes that the new superintendent will come in and clean up the mess. They are hoping to be valued in the district once again instead of being the scapegoat.

    Amazing how one incompetent person can undue decades of good work.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    June 20, 2012 6:02 p.m.

    As an accountant who is aware of the audit process this type of fraud is very hard to detect because the amounts are actually very insignificant and they are normally audited by young auditors who are still learning. The State Audit office did a very good job for handling this case and getting the right people involved to conduct a through investigation. These financial audits are important and I am glad we have a CPA at our state office who encourages these types of financial audits. Thank you Auston Johnson for your professionalism and service!

  • green_earth Rexburg, ID
    June 20, 2012 6:29 p.m.

    Don't know Wong, don't know anyone in power (or in low-power) at all here. But, seriously, over seven years they find $~11K in discrepancy? They find that proper supervision was not used? I have no issue with the need to investigate the fact that there is money that wasn't tracked, or policy not followed. But for all the publicity and outcry, this is ridiculous. Wong should not have lost his job, and outside of the bloated public monopoly, he wouldn't have. Why? Because he is effective, and we're talking about an amount of money that does not indicate fraudulent activity when you compare it against what "could" happen if one really wanted to take money from that system. And for those who think this $11K is a big deal, if you think that's all it cost to perform these audits, dream on. The call to accountability was needed, but job loss and tarnishing of Wong's good name, wasn't.

  • Wendall Hoop Murray, UT
    June 20, 2012 6:59 p.m.

    Wow, $10,000? And this investigation probably has cost over $50,000. That makes a whole lot of sense.

  • kiaoraguy Provo, UT
    June 20, 2012 11:10 p.m.

    Does the school board bear any responsibility in any of this?

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    June 21, 2012 8:08 a.m.

    Dear Bruin, please read this quote from the article. Gentry confirmed Wednesday that Wong was not the only employee to receive discipline, but he would not elaborate.

    "There are other administrators at the school who have been disciplined, but that’s a personnel issue and we don’t discuss those outside executive session,” Gentry said.

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    June 21, 2012 8:11 a.m.

    I had to clean up a similar situation in my last school. No money was missing, but the money was mixed in school and non school accounts, coaches were getting monies for outside tournaments when they had no money in their accounts etc. Some coaches left because they didn't like the policies I put into place. What they didn't realize I was protecting their teaching credential and the credentials of our school.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    June 21, 2012 8:11 a.m.

    Re: kaoraguy As the district board they are fully responsible and should all be voted out. Further, it is amazing that other administrators were disciplined, but somehow their names can not be given out. Only Mr. Wong's is made public and run through the mud. And we are to believe this was not a attempt to CYA others and to smear this man.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    June 21, 2012 8:58 a.m.

    Some of the responses are really amazing to me! It apparently isn't important that only a "little" bit of money in the big picture was misued? It apparently isn't wrong that a coach misuses funds because, after all, he's just a coach and not paid very much anyway? OH MY HECK! If anyone wants an understanding of why the US is going to the dump right now, all they need to do is read this thread! What in the heck happened to "are you honest in your business dealings!!!!". Do so many of you really think that you wouldn't know if you put some extra cash in your pocket that didn't come by way of your paycheck that there was something WRONG with that!

  • SLCguy Murray, UT
    June 21, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Hey, HEADLINE WRITER person

    How about thousands of dollars not deposited, but several Million dollars were!

    Or nearly 1/30th of 1% of Timpview Football funds missing?

    Not sexy enough for you?
    Sorry, I just HATE it when I'm ...... what's that word?...... accurate

  • Silent Lurker Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 21, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Can someone please explain why this school was raising millions of dollars for a high school football team? Do all the high schools do this same thing? Is there a listing of funds raised by each schools booster club? Isn't this creating the same type of environment that the NCAA had to finally put an end to with their rules? Seems like there would be an unfair advantage for schools with so much funding.

  • Conner Johnson
    June 21, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Not a big deal? They stole more money than most of us regular folks make in a single year!

  • amanap Washington, ut
    June 21, 2012 11:24 a.m.

    I can't believe most of you people justifying what Wong did. He stole and misused money meant for high school kids. If it was $10 dollars he stole to buy himself lunch he should have been fired. What kind of value system do you guys live by any way. Check yourselves and what you are teaching your children because that my friends is why society is changing for the worse.
    P.S. Bring it.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    June 21, 2012 12:06 p.m.

    Kami,

    If you were to audit every business guys expense report over the last 7 years then you are going to see "several" things on there that technically weren't just business expenses...

    I mean, maybe someone bought a pack of gum along with their gas.

    What do you think? Are they honest in their business dealings?

    Oh my heck! The world doesn't need to be wound up as tight as you would like.

    When you are talking about $5 million dollars then this amounts to a pack of gum and if your own policies are at fault then tighten them up a bit. To create this circus and act like it is fraud because they had loose books is a bit overkill.

    The world is going to heck for other reasons than this. And yes, I'm rationalizing...like we all do. No body wants to track every penny except for accountants and thank goodness most of us are not CPA's. And we are talking Football! Give the world a break.

    I like your passion, but direct it where there are real problems going on. You are chasing a pack of gum and crying foul.

  • Lee Corso American Fork, UT
    June 21, 2012 12:16 p.m.

    Amy, when are we gong to have the article about all of the other schools that have been doing similar things but are not being talked about? Would love to hear about the Under Armour agreements in place with coaches at Alta, Lone Peak, Park City, etc. How come we can't get all of the truth and facts laid out for us to see vs. focusing in on only Timpview?

  • rnoble Pendleton, OR
    June 21, 2012 12:25 p.m.

    Really interesting thread. Lots of examples of thinking errors and/or reading what isn't there. Math skills lacking also.

    $2900 and $8953 is closer to $12000 than $10000 and represents approximately $1 out of $5 from the money determined to be school funds ($60000+). 20% is pretty good opportunity for graft. This thread mentions millions (5 and 7 both alluded to). So if the problem was evident in public money then what happened to the private money and was 20% also unaccounted for?

    As for Coach Wong; his continued employment was clearly distasteful to the district, maybe because of the appearance of wrong doing, but without connecting him directly to ill-gotten gains, he was probably wrongfully fired. If they had evidence that tied Wong to the money in any personally benefiting way then he should have been charged with a crime; perhaps embezzling. After trial which established guilt or innocence, his employment could be determined with all the facts.

    As for successful coaches; I believe the state should hire all the coaches and should move them around every couple of years so that all the kids get the benefits instead of just a few lucky ones.

    Different discussion.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 21, 2012 1:35 p.m.

    guitarboy - for your enlightenment, and audit is an investigation. A financial investigation. So I am missing you point.

    And to those who say it was only 10K, whats the big deal.... lets have you short your mortgage payments 10 over a period of a couple of years, and see if your bank thinks its a big deal. Or perhaps you take an extra 10k from your employer, and see if they think it isn't a big deal. Or how about you buy a 60K car, and decide you'll only pay 50k to the owner... no big deal, right?

    It is insane that there are those who think the loss of 10k our of a total of 60K think that is no big deal. I am wondering if the fine coach would be bothered it the state lost 10k of his pay check and couldn't account for it.

    I am not saying the man is dishoest. It could have been just poor controls and record keeping. But either way, loosing 20% of the money entrusted to you is a "big deal".

  • Simple Man Riverton, UT
    June 21, 2012 1:58 p.m.

    The money was "never deposited in school accounts".

    Somehow this means that Wong must have pocketed the money? How do you know that it wasn't just bad bookkeeping practice and that the most of that money was spent on sports/school related expenses that were also not appropriately tracked?

    Seems like a convenient blame game by the school district for not adequately monitoring the goings on of a huge sports spending campaign.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    June 21, 2012 2:39 p.m.

    Red,

    Your post completely supports my point about the attitudes and behaviors that are killing this country. A few thousand here, a few thousand there .. no big deal, right? Think again ... its IS a big deal for lots of reasons and I'm sorry you apparently don't see that.

  • amanap Washington, ut
    June 21, 2012 3:15 p.m.

    @moble
    I liked a lot of your post but the moving coaches thing is crazy considering they are almost all family men and wouldn't make sense to move them around. As someone who has watched Utah high school football for 20 years I'll tell you right now that Wong was not a good high school coach. A good college coach maybe but no high school. He was notorious for having classless teams that would belittle other teams and players. They were always arrogant and lacked in sportsmanship, never with any reprove from Wong. And to top it off he stole and misused funds for the team. That's not someone that should be around youth.

    @Red

    Of course that's not an "honest business dealing". Doesn't matter one bit how much money it was it's the principle behind it that you don't get. If someone knowingly steals from someone else, and in this case from donations towards youth football, that is wrong. Am I really the only one that believes this way? I sure hope not. Hopefully on here has those values and principle and are just blinded by their feelings toward Wong.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    June 21, 2012 4:43 p.m.

    amanap,

    I'm not advocating stealing.

    If you were a cop you would be pulling over and ticketing everyone who ever rolls through a stop sign. Just in case you haven't been paying attention out there it happens constantly.

    Football as a whole has some problems. There is a lot of money that flows into and out of that program. And the numbers only go up in college and then again in the pros. Recruiting is part of the game and recruits are provided dinner, dancing, movies, etc. That is paid in cash and some of it ends up in players pockets. That is the way it is. Roll through the stop light--or turn in the $.30 in change? You are living in a fantasy world.
    Wong built a new field, weight room, juggled cash and booster. and he did it right in front of this whole valley. If the bean counters cared they would have showed up and counted the beans. They ran a loose ship. As in, it was ok to buy a pack of gum with your gas and it is ok to roll through the stop sign.

    This is not Fraud! Give it up!

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    June 21, 2012 6:08 p.m.

    I think there is a legitimate case here. That said what is appropriate spending by the coach is a pretty subjective thing. He was in control of the money and as such it was his decision as to what the money should be spent on so long as it related to the team. I don't think there were any guidelines saying "you can buy this for the team but you can't buy that".

    The problem here is the missing money and also the previously reported fact that he spent some of these funds on getting his own car repaired.

    I personally think he just didn't keep good books and probably wasn't particularly bright in what he thought were proper expenditures.

    I have a buddy whose kids play football for Timpview and he told me that a lot of money was spent on pretty frivolous stuff, like taking the entire team to Magelby's for lunch. It may not be illegal but it certainly wasn't smart.

  • green_earth Rexburg, ID
    June 21, 2012 6:11 p.m.

    Kami, I fully understand your rational. But, you make the assumption that those of us who think the wrong outcome has occurred here are alright with the coach taking a little money. That is not at all what we are saying. Read what is known to have happened, not what you infer. We absolutely I have not been offered, as the public, proof that Coach Wong "misused some money", if so, he would be charged. What we know is that a minuscule amount, percentage wise, cannot be accounted for. There apparently is no smoking gun, and no one is facing criminal charges after multiple audits that were obviously thorough and with proper checks and balances. That there were failures to adhere to policy, or properly track funds as they received them, is obvious. It should be apparent to anyone involved with a large organization both receiving and distributing transactions that total millions of dollars that there are multiple people and entities involved. I find it far too convenient that coach Wong appears to be the scapegoat for the failure of what is likely many different people.

  • mab93 Provo, UT
    June 21, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    I agree that there are lots of thinking and math errors, but think that people should read the audit (www.sao.state.ut.us/).

    2011 rough estimates:
    undeposited money: 2900+8953=11853.
    Total "income" including projects: 750000(weight room) + 170000(field) + 81710(activities) + 60000(commingled booster money) = 1061710
    undeposited percentage: 1.12%
    Excluding projects: 8.36%

    $2900: In the booster club account. Should be moved to the school football program according to the audit.
    $8953: Unaccounted Football Activities Fees. Poorly documented cash expenses and waved student fees (fundraising, service, etc.). Can't determine if funds were stolen, lost, or spent.

    The fact that the state is finding similar issues in the sample of schools it is auditing tells me that football coaches in general aren't good at accounting and aren't getting much direction. It looks like Wong did things the way they had been done before and the school and district didn't have a problem with it. Then at some point the district realized that they hadn't been doing things right, so they decide to fire Wong. I think that either Wong shouldn't have been fired, or a lot more people should have.

  • My 2 Bits Orem, UT
    June 21, 2012 7:50 p.m.

    It cracks me up that these people are defending this to their last breath. Being on the outside, it is pretty black and white. I think it is funny that the Lone Peak parents were like, "where is our money?" Yet these parents keep signing the blank check. Money is missing. 12,000 in this audit. Tens of thousands in the other audit. I don't get it? The money was gone. It was mishandled, fraudulent or not, in other articles the coach bragged about being I control of all the money. That person pays the price. Black and white.

  • Magic Happens 801 SLC, UT
    June 21, 2012 8:24 p.m.

    I agree with mab93...why did the former Principal get off?

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    June 21, 2012 9:40 p.m.

    This is pitiful. A perfect example of how incredibly dumb the people running our school districts can be. This circus has probably cost the district ten times the "so called" lost funds. And I'll bet that the vast majority of the so-called "missing" money was spent in the right way anyway.

    If I read it right, this coach helped raise about five million bucks over the years. One percent equals $50,000, so it looks like something less than 1/5th of one percent didn't make it to the right account (but was probably used to further the cause).

    In retrospect, this was handled in a clumsy and graceless fashion by administrators in the Provo School District. These people make cucumbers look like Einstein.

    Coach Wong should never have been fired. He should have had his hand slapped and then he should have been taught how to handle the books better.

    If the graceless clods running the district had any humility or sense of what was right they would offer the guy his job back and then have a bake sale to make up the lost funds.

  • satch Highland, UT
    June 21, 2012 10:59 p.m.

    Those of you who are concerned about the missing money have never been part of a large student group. Just one lunch for 200 kids and coaches is a lot of money. Mab93 is absolutely correct. Do you how many extra hours goes into just planning for your kids let alone the time these coaches and teachers are infant of your kids. Hours they are never paid for. They do it so everyone can be successful.

    You do your best to account for every cent. The issue with Coach Wong is a product of their own district oversight. If coach Wong had spent more time in his office counting the clams till 2AM instead of planning and coaching he might be alright.

    This sends a message to the best and brightest students in our colleges. Don't go into teaching unless your prepared to shell out money for a good shrink and psychiatric drugs. Too bad Coach Wong didn't have the money to pay for Roger Clemens' attorney.

  • fender Washington, UT
    June 22, 2012 4:39 p.m.

    Article simply says the money at issue wasn't deposited in school accounts. That doesn't mean it wasn't deposited in a booster account. If it was, then I'm sure it will be turned over to the school. The inference that Wong or someone else ran off with this money is not justified by the facts presented in this article.