Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sheldon Baseball Investigation Update

There's not much new to report on the Sheldon High School principal's investigation into the school's baseball program. Paula Duncan wrote in an email to me yesterday that she was awaiting some information from parents. 

She is looking into numerous charges parents of baseball players have brought against varsity head coach Mike Hughes and his son Doug, an assistant coach. They include recruiting players from other high schools, using booster club monies for a club team not associated with the school and scaring players into silence by telling them that if their parents complained they'd be benched.

A source has told me in the past week that the parents of 14 players have signed a letter demanding that Hughes be fired. 

Hughes' youngest son Dan, owner of two businesses mentioned in a letter written by parents and emailed to the Citizen on Aug. 10, has talked to me about allegations of improper dealings with the Sheldon baseball program.

His remarks strongly defend his father’s coaching and running of the Sheldon program along with upholding the integrity of his baseball/softball indoor workout facility, “Inside the Park” and his clothing and silk screening business, Hughes Silk Screening.

“I don’t make any money off Sheldon baseball,” the younger Hughes said. “I’m not taking advantage of Sheldon baseball and neither is Coach Hughes. Nobody is. I’m giving them a good deal.”

Hughes also says that none of his family members has ownership in either one of his businesses.

Parents of Sheldon players alleged in the letter,  that the elder Hughes required his players during poor weather this spring to work out at his son’s indoor facility, making the player pay for each session. They also claim Coach Hughes used his son’s silk screening business to buy the team’s hats, jerseys and other items used for Sheldon’s summer ball team, the River City Outlaws.

Hughes, along with Dave Absher, own “Inside the Park” on Florin-Perkins Road. It has been used by several Elk Grove-area baseball teams for individual and team workouts. There’s five “tunnels” used for hitting practice, three dirt mounds and a large area that has a turf surface so players can practice taking ground balls.

Hughes says he charged the Sheldon players only $5 each for a three-hour team workout when his normal fee is $60 per hour for team workouts.

“I can’t imagine why they are complaining about paying,” he remarked. “And, here’s the kicker – half the kids don’t pay me anything. They say, ‘I’ll pay you tomorrow.’ They aren’t paying me.”

Hughes claims he’s always been gracious towards Sheldon’s baseball program.

“A year ago the previous coach (John Misplay) called one day when they couldn’t practice outside and asked if they could use the facility to practice,” he continued. “At the time I didn’t have much set up and had just laid down the turf and I let them come in. They used it for three hours and I didn’t charge them a nickel.”

He also took offense to the parents’ assertions that he was making money off the Sheldon baseball program through his silk screening business, which he co-owns with Lisa Hayes, his girlfriend.

“The shirts and hats were done by Dan Hughes … without obtaining additional bids,” the parents write in their letter.

“Coach Misplay bought all his summer and fall jerseys and hats from me the past four years,” Hughes responded. He claims he charged Sheldon no more than two dollars over his cost for their caps.

“I even lost money on coaches’ jerseys,” he added. “I don’t make very much money off of Sheldon baseball, I never have.”

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