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Scarborough baseball booster retracts solicitation for coach's training camp

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Scarborough baseball booster retracts solicitation for coach's training camp

SCARBOROUGH — The school baseball booster who urged players to enroll in a winter training camp at a business that employs the high school coach on Tuesday said he regrets his decision.

"I'm going to take whatever lumps are coming,” said Todd Welsh Sr., who circulated a letter retracting one he sent previously. The retraction was received earlier this week by Scarborough High School Principal David Creech and Athletic Director Mike LeGage.

Welsh, a vice president of the Scarborough Baseball Boosters, said he sent the original letter on his own earlier this month, urging players to enroll in January at the Edge Academy in Portland for a two-month training program leading into baseball season.

"We hope that we can get a solid turnout from all eligible Scarborough High School players for the 2014 season," Welsh wrote in the letter, which he now says was not sanctioned by the boosters, and not known to high school coach Ryan Jones, who works at the academy.

Welsh's first letter was forwarded to Creech, School Superintendent George Entwistle III, acting Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier, School Board members Jacquelyn Perry and Donna Beeley, and local reporters last week. It was accompanied by an anonymous letter expressing concerns about a conflict of interest, because Jones is an instructor at the academy owned by former Scarborough coach Nick Caiazzo.

"The interesting thing is, my son was not even going to do it. I was just kind of getting the program rolling,” Welsh said.

Creech Tuesday said a school investigation of the letter is complete, and it is clear Jones and the high school program had no part in trying to enroll athletes in a program that costs $275 per student.

Welsh's original letter included a reference to a conversation he claimed to have had with Jones regarding training: "Ryan wants the Scarborough players to come out of the box in the spring conditioned, giving Scarborough a physical and mental edge."

But this week he specifically retracted that statement, and more:

"The language I used in the email was an effort to encourage involvement, at no time have I had any conversations with Coach Jones about out-of season training. I want to be perfectly clear that I did not consult with the Boosters, Coach Jones or Mr. LeGage the Athletic Director when drafting the letter or on my decision to send it out to everyone."

Welsh said the intent of the enrollment letter was misunderstood, although he does want players to be conditioned and ready for the upcoming season.

"There's a lot of programs out there," he said. "I would have made it more generic and let people know there were options out there. I would not have quoted the coach.”

Creech said the incident has been reported to the Maine Principals' Association, which oversees sanctioned high school athletics, in case it is a violation of booster rules.

MPA Executive Director Dick Durost on Tuesday said the preferred course of action is to let the school handle any possible sanctions, but the MPA Management Committee could review the possible violation when it meets again in late January 2014.

Durost said the MPA does not have a conflict-of-interest policy, and Creech said it is clear Jones, the coach, was not involved in seeking players to train at the Edge Academy.

Entwistle and Creech said they were disappointed the letter from parents complaining about Welsh's original message was delivered anonymously, even though the concerns merited investigation.

"We want to have a culture where people are comfortable coming to us with their concerns," Creech said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.