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

Published: Wednesday, June 20 2012 2:27 p.m. MDT

Timpview head coach Louis Wong holds up the 4A championship trophy with his players November 20, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Keith Johnson, Deseret News archives

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PROVO — Thousands of dollars raised by the Timpview football program were never deposited into school accounts, and the limited policies and guidelines in place were not followed by coaches, the school or the district, according to an audit released by the state Wednesday.

The report by the Utah State Auditor's Office is a look into the management of funds at the Utah County school, which led to discipline and ultimately the resignation of Timpview's successful football coach. But it also noted the lack of standard procedures  statewide when it comes to overseeing fundraising, donations or booster club activities.

"(The Utah State Office of Education) staff is also in the process of drafting a board rule requiring local policies over fundraising, donations and relationships with third party organizations," State Superintendent Larry Shumway wrote, in response to the report. He said new rules are expected to be presented to the State Board of Education in September.

 The latest review is the third audit of the highly successful football program, and it was undertaken at the request of both the state's office of education and the Provo School District after money irregularities came to light.

"We looked at their report and expanded from there," said Debbie Empey, the audit director. "We didn't duplicate. We took it a bit farther."

Auditors found:

• At least $8,953 in revenue collected from football activities was never deposited in school accounts.

• More than $60,000 in fundraising revenue, which belonged to the school, was co-mingled in a separate booster club account or in a private account. While most of the revenue made it into school accounts, at least $2,900 did not.

• The Provo School District failed to oversee four major construction projects. Numerous laws, guidelines and procedures were not followed or were done so inadequately.

• Because policies and procedures at other schools and in other districts differ significantly, there is significant confusion related to fundraising and booster club procedures.

Provo district officials said they agreed with the assertion that the district should recover public funds that are still being held by private individuals.

"Billings will be presented for the $8,953 football activities revenues and the $2,900 small banner revenue identified by the audit as public funds," the response from Provo District's interim superintendent, Robert Gentry said. He also said additional training on fundraising policies will be implemented.

After completing the audit, Empey's report offered a number of recommendations to both the state office and the Provo School District:

• The district should consider recovering the public funds identified and implement adequate policies and procedures for the school to follow.

• Timpview High should implement appropriate district policies and procedures, including internal controls over cash receipts.

• The education office should develop guidelines for fundraising and donations to aid school districts in developing policies that govern fundraising and booster clubs. The auditor’s office is currently reviewing a sample of schools in other districts in the state and is finding similar issues.

The money controversy cost popular and successful head football coach Louis Wong his job. He was initially fired by the district following the district's audit and the state's investigation. He recently settled his grievance with the district by agreeing to resign if they withdrew his termination.

"I have submitted my resignation as a teacher and coach effective at the end of the 2011-2012 school year," he said in a written statement released by his attorney Elizabeth Dunning last week. "This resolves all disputes between the district and me."

Wong, who won four state titles and seven region titles in his seven years as Timpview's head coach, said he has taken a new job overseeing all of the personal trainers for Gold's Gym and just wants to move forward.

Wong is fighting to retain his teaching credentials this week.

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.

E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com

Twitter: adonsports

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