Utah high schools change how they accept gifts, donations

Investigations spur districts to spell out policies on donations

Published: Friday, July 6 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

"Skyline got their snack bar, so we asked for ours," said Cate. "We were told, 'You don't get it because you have Cate.' For 13 years the district hasn't spent money on Cottonwood sports because if they've needed it, I've paid for it."

Cate told the Deseret News last week that he was asked to have all of his belongings off school property before officials changed the locks. He estimates he took $300,000 to $400,000 worth of equipment.

"I'll donate the stuff to one of the other schools I work with outside of Utah," he said.

District officials, however, said they would have accepted the items Cate took with him as donations. They simply meant for him to take that which he wished to keep for himself.

New Cottonwood principal Alan Parrish said he and the new football coach have made a list of what needs to be replaced and what it will cost. Parrish said any replacement items would be comparable to what other schools in Granite District have.

However, Horsley said much of what Cate took with him isn't standard operating equipment for a prep football program — including "collegiate level video-editing systems and camera systems."

"Most of that equipment will not be replaced as it is above and beyond what any high school program has," said Horsley. "Taxpayers will not see any additional tax burden as a result of this. We'll provide the same resources to Cottonwood that any other high school has."

Cate gave the Deseret News a list of items he's donated, including more than $3.2 million in donated items he'll leave behind.

Cate, by the district's June 28 deadline, took most of the property that he plans to remove. He did, however, temporarily leave $260,000 worth of weight-room equipment, stadium speakers and sound system and blocking sleds, all of which he plans to remove at the end of football season. He said he doesn't want the players to suffer any disadvantage just a few weeks before the season starts.

Cate's supporters, including many former players, said the list doesn't include the countless hours he's spent helping student-athletes — some from other schools — with the recruiting process, including making DVDs, contacting coaches and making phone calls on behalf of the athletes.

The controversy at both schools has caused unintended consequences to the student-athletes involved in the programs. And as the state auditor's office continues to probe various programs, other districts may decide to change or clarify just how private donations are handled in public schools.

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com