Coaching Corruption Alleged in Texas High School Lacrosse League
SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - Dallas-area high school lacrosse coaches schemed to bench or cut players who refused to pay for the coaches' for-profit lacrosse program, in violation of a myriad of NCAA rules, a family claims in a federal racketeering lawsuit.
William A. Munck, Suzanne T. Munck and William P.J. "Billy" Munck sued Dallas Lacrosse Academy LLC, John A. Marano, Kevin Barnicle, Alexander Poole, Christopher Van Dorne, Robert Seebold and Steven Kravit in Federal Court on March 25.
The family claims the defendants retaliated against Billy Munck for not supporting the Dallas Lacrosse Academy (DLA).
"Texas is no stranger to scandals involving sports teams," the complaint begins. "When lacrosse grew in popularity in Texas, it is not surprising that corrupt individuals looked for ways to profit from this sport that was new to Texas. The RICO defendants in this case are those corrupt individuals. ...
"Through the use of illegal and fraudulent conduct, including threats, intimidation, and even extortion, defendants have tried to ensure that student athletes who want to play lacrosse in North Texas have to pay-for-play and have to go through defendants' enterprise. Those who do not acquiesce to the RICO defendants' threats and demands suffer. Billy Munck was one of the victims of this criminal enterprise, as were many others. Plaintiffs file this complaint to ensure that others, including Billy's younger brother - a high school sophomore, do not suffer a similar fate."
The Muncks claim that Marano acknowledged that Billy Munck was "suffering" while playing for the Episcopal School of Dallas "as a result of Barnicle's animosity."
"Marano, the then head coach at Plano West High School Lacrosse Club, knew that Billy Munck had been intentionally relegated to a locker room with freshman and sophomores in an attempt to embarrass Billy Munck into quitting or coerce plaintiffs into finally supporting the DLA enterprise," the complaint states.
"In view of Mr. Munck's knowledge of Marano's continuing fraud on the North Texas lacrosse community, Marano offered and worked through his counsel to attempt to resolve DLA's and Barnicle's issues with the plaintiffs by offering to and actually interceding and 'fixing' Barnicle's treatment of Billy Munck. After Marano's intervention, Barnicle allowed Billy Munck to dress for 11 varsity games and play in 9, but did not reassign Billy Munck to a varsity locker or award him a varsity letter at the end of his junior year."
The Muncks claim the founders and owners of DLA used their school coaching positions to "hit up" families, who then expressed concern their children would not play at their schools if they did not pay.
"Consistent with this 'pay-for-play' concept, the RICO defendants identified a strategy for selecting the C2C [Lacrosse] camp teams: make decisions based on the influence of and potential revenue from the parents rather than on the players' abilities," the complaint states. "In 2009, following tryouts where counselors/coaches evaluated players and selected rosters, the RICO defendants met at the Blackfinn Saloon and discussed specific influential families targeted to support the DLA initiative. Players who tried out and were not selected by the evaluators replaced other players on the roster because those players' families could affect support for DLA at Highland Park, Plano, St. Mark's [high schools], etc."
DLA also allowed certain students to pay substantially less than full price in exchange for their loyalty, the Muncks claim.
"High school lacrosse players were offered such discounted rates to help promote the DLA brand for select teams and camps and increase participation and attendance from their respective high school programs," the complaint states. "The practice of charging recruiting-age students based on considerations other than financial need violates numerous NCAA rules and regulations."
The Muncks claim DLA violated additional NCAA rules when it flew in college student athletes for a 2009 DLA summer camp and used their action photographs to promote the event.
They claim that for two years, Barnicle and CLA assisted an unidentified parent in using a recent graduate "to act as a compensated agent" for placing a student-athlete with his former university.
DLA allegedly contacted the best players from opposing lacrosse teams to offer them positions on "elite" DLA teams without having to pay full price.
"Some of the better players were asked to replace weaker DLA players already on the roster, and these players were asked to board airplanes, stay at hotels, and play in recruiting tournaments under another player's name," the complaint states. "This practice violates a myriad of NCAA rules for which DLA and the RICO defendants believe they have no responsibility."
The Muncks claim players are still being threatened and intimidated, and that students are blocked from receiving All-American honors, among other things.
"One North Texas lacrosse player was told by Marano that he would be pulled from consideration from playing on Team Dallas and would not receive accolades for lacrosse accomplishments unless the student withdrew from participating in StickStar, a DLA competitor's program, and instead played for DLA," the complaint states.
"After the player refused to cede to the RICO defendants' threats, the RICO defendants followed through on their threats, with Van Dorn calling the student's father to inform him that the student would not play on Team Dallas within minutes of informing Marano of the decision to honor the student's commitment to StickStar."
The Dallas Lacrosse Academy could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
The Muncks seek actual and punitive damages for racketeering and conspiracy.
They are represented by Jamil Alibhai with Munck Wilson in Dallas.