CHECK: Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in Texas.
By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org
HOUSTON — Call it lacrossanostra.
Coaches at some of the top high school and youth lacrosse teams in Texas are actually members of an organized criminal conspiracy, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week.
The parents of a lacrosse player who didn’t get much playing time at Episopal School of Dallas — one of the top programs in the state — have sued a total of six coaches affiliated with the program and two other state powerhouses nearby, alleging their association with a private lacrosse academy-travel team is a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The RICO Act is best known as a tool for prosecuting Mafia figures, but it also allows for private civil lawsuits.
At first glance, the lawsuit by William Munck of Dallas and his family against the Dallas Lacrosse Academy and others might seem to be just an extreme example of obsessive sports parenting. But if Munck can prove the detailed allegations he made in a complaint last week, the state’s fastest-growing sport is headed for a major scandal.
Lacrosse has been booming across Texas for more than a decade, but nowhere more than the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, home to many of the state’s top programs.
The lawsuit names current and former coaches at the Episcopal School of Dallas, Plano West and Highland Park, alleging they used their positions and control of playing time to get players to sign up with Dallas Lacrosse Academy, a for-profit program that competes for area talent with the nonprofit LoneStar youth program, which was established by Highland Park more than a decade ago.
Those coaches were paid for their recruiting efforts, according to the lawsuit, which mentions two Dallas coaches who got $10,000 up front, “plus credit for new players brought into the DLA program.”
“DLA and the RICO Defendants pushed their student athletes to participate in DLA if they wanted to play or succeed in their youth and high school programs,” the lawsuit alleges. “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.”
Munck alleges DLA is secretly controlled by Bob Seebold, a youth coach with the competing Highland Park program.
One high school coach approached by DLA apparently told Munck he wouldn’t be given “sales commission” for any school players he delivered “but would be given credit/commission for any players that he could recruit from a physical training business he owned that focused on lacrosse players,” according to the lawsuit, which tells only one side of a story. “He believed that he could not be given credit for high school players he coached because of the inherent conflict of interest. He later understood that ‘credit’ for his high school players was claimed before he was ever spoken to about joining the DLA coaching staff.”
Munck also accuses the program of using ‘ringers’ in tournament play, alleging that “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. This practice violates a myriad of NCAA rules …”
The defendants haven’t yet filed their response to the allegations.
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