Blogs and Commentary

posted 01.12.2012 at 11.30 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Betrayal Could Be Useful for MCLA Players

There is no sting quite like that of betrayal. Alas, that's what the MCLA – specifically the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference – is dealing with after allegations surfaced that the former treasurer of the SELC embezzled $86,000 from the conference's coffers over a seven-year period. There is obviously much anger and numerous questions lingering among the conference players about this malfeasance.

It probably has less to do with the money itself. While 86-large is nothing to sneeze at, the SELC has 40 teams in its two leagues this year – the largest in the nation. It hasn't always been this big, but it always has been sizeable. So $86,000 divided by that many teams over seven years amounts to a relatively small per-team hit. I'm not trying to downplay the alleged embezzlement, but it's not a make-or-break amount for the SELC.

Where this should hit home for the stakeholders in the MCLA is in the trust department. There is a member of a conference executive committee cutting checks to himself for nearly a decade? That is a serious blow to the faith held by the players. Add in the fact that there were other elected officials tasked with shepherding the league who failed to do their due diligence, and it's very difficult to have any confidence in the stewardship of the conference.

As difficult an issue as this is for the SELC, both now and in the future, it should be wake-up call for the players in the nine other conferences that constitute the MCLA.

In light of this event, players should not only demand the minutes of every meeting held by their conference administrators, but also require a detailed spreadsheet accounting for every penny of dues that have been paid to the league. This can be done in a very reasonable way – I'm not advocating that teams grab pitchforks and torches before storming the conference offices – by setting up a protocol to distribute the information on a routine basis. This should also apply to the centralized MCLA offices, as well.

MCLA players can no longer afford to sit back and take a secondary role in the running of its conferences and association. Recent events have made it crystal clear that even the most likable, seemingly competent, well-meaning individuals can make terrible decisions or be blind to them. As such, there should be a level of trust, but with it stringent verification.

The SELC will survive this embezzlement, but it could have been a lot worse. In some ways, this is exactly what the MCLA players and conferences needed as it continues on its growth trajectory. However, if they don't tackle this issue now and demand transparency, the problems like these will persist, and they'll have no one but themselves to blame.