BOZEMAN — A judge on Friday reinstated the Manhattan High School football coach who had been suspended for the season over allegations of mismanaging the proceeds of a pre-season fundraiser.
Gallatin County District Court Judge Mike Salvagni granted a temporary restraining order allowing Dale McQueary to continue coaching until a hearing can be held Oct. 31, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
The judge’s order comes in a lawsuit filed earlier Friday by the parents of 10 players who say their children’s rights were violated by McQueary’s suspension.
“The loss of any one game jeopardizes the chance for these young men, especially the seniors, to participate in the state playoffs,” Salvagni wrote in his order. “They also will be denied the opportunity to fairly compete with other football players in this state and others for college scholarships if their season is cut short by not having the input of a head coach.”
School officials in mid-September suspended McQueary for the season after an investigation found McQueary held onto cash raised by players who sold $20 discount cards over the past three seasons, while depositing checks in the team’s account.
The investigation by the Montana School Boards Association and school auditors said McQueary acknowledged spending money on equipment and meals for players without district approval.
Officials say he withheld about $8,400 from the school account over three seasons, including nearly $4,600 this year.
When the district’s auditor first asked McQueary why he didn’t deposit the cash, McQueary responded that it was a way to get around Montana High School Association and Title IX equality rules, the investigation summary said.
The investigation found McQueary’s actions could subject the school district to a gender discrimination lawsuit and that the district is obligated to report its findings to the MHSA.
Investigators also found McQueary had the 2013 football players sign false spreadsheets saying how many cards they sold to match up with the checks that were deposited.
Dale McQueary’s attorney, Wayne Harper, tells The Belgrade News (http://bit.ly/1c4R69f) the investigation was a “vendetta over a coaching issue” and McQueary plans to sue the school district.
At that time of his suspension, McQueary had about $3,000 in cash from the fundraiser in an unlocked filing cabinet in his classroom, the report said. In his account of spending the rest, McQueary said he paid $1,000 to a volunteer coach. He was instructed to get the money back, left and returned with 11 $100 bills he said were in a briefcase in his car. McQueary accounted for spending all but about $300 of the rest, investigators found.
McQueary contended the administration knew he kept cash in his room and that other coaches also kept cash on the side. The investigation found one coach had withheld about $100 to $200 but other coaches said the rules for depositing and spending funds were made clear at coaches’ meetings that McQueary acknowledged attending.
McQueary is in his 10th year at the school this fall.
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