When an anonymous parent went to a local television channel this week crying foul, the Sandy Creek High School Touchdown Club sought to clear its name. While the club did lose its 501c3, it says it was due to a simple misunderstanding and not gross negligence, and the process is already underway to have it restored.
According to Touchdown Club President Greg Mallett, the non-profit slip-up dates back three years before most of the current executive board was in place and resulted from miscommunication over services provided by an outside organization. An umbrella organization, USA Incorporated, handles many of the inner workings of the club via a membership fee. For the past three years, the club received yearly reminders to send in the paperwork needed to file taxes. Unfortunately, the reminders were misleading, as it turns out the club’s membership level did not actually include that service.
“We thought that by sending it to them, they were filing on our behalf,” said Mallett, adding that the process to have the non-profit status restored is underway and will be retroactive. “There’s just some paperwork that needs to be filed, and we’re in the process of getting it filed. It’s getting taken care of.”
The WSBTV report also points to the parent wondering why the team could not charter a bus to a playoff game in Cairo when they had already paid season fees. According to Mallett, the Touchdown Club did not reach their season fundraising goals, and there simply was not enough money left in the bank to charter a bus, so they had to settle for county school buses to transport the team. He said that was conveyed to attendees at the regular club meeting in advance.
“You set a budget, and you hope to make it, but we just didn’t make it,” he said, noting the many facets of supporting a football team from equipment to trainers to transportation to food and many things in between. “We’ve always been straightforward with parents about how much it costs to put their player on their field and where their fees go.”
The club has met with both Principal Robert Hunter and Athletic Director Richard Smith and they understand the situation. The club will also be meeting with the finance department from the school system to make sure all of their books are in order.
“We’ve been an open book with them,” said Mallett. “We’re trying to be as transparent as possible.”
Mallett noted that the actions of the anonymous parent were beneficial, as they otherwise would not have known the non-profit status had lapsed, but that the club hopes to get to an open and cooperative relationship with all parents.
“Let’s put the dagger down and work together and get things done,” he said. “Nobody’s done anything wrong other than an oversight on paperwork.”
In the end, there’s really just one thing the club cares about, and that is the players on the team.
“Our job as a booster club is to support and help get these kids get on the field. These kids are the heroes,” said Mallett. “We’re here to help these high school athletes have the time of their lives. We’re here to support them and help them achieve that dream.”
Ed. Note: The parent who brought the complaints to WSBTV requested anonymity for the story, and thus was unable to be contacted for this article.