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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Circle Systems Group investigation grows

Reliable sources have told me that the federal investigation behind the corrupt actions of the Easton, Pa.-based Circle Systems Group athletic equipment conditioning firm and several high-ranking New Jersey athletic officials is spreading.

Apparently, one of those former New Jersey athletic administrators, who has been caught red-handed with his hands all over the Circle Systems cookie jar, has decided to turn into an informant and provide information on other athletic directors in return for a lesser jail sentence than the one he already faces.

The former athletic administrator, who had a long-standing career in northern New Jersey, is working on a plea deal that will minimize his jail sentence and in doing so, has decided to become a snitch and rat out a handful of others who are allegedly involved with the scandal.

With the cooperation of this one particular big-wig, there might be as many five others in his circle of colleagues who could go down with him.

For those not in the know, Circle Systems, under the guidance of David Drill, who has already pleaded guilty to mail fraud and other charges in the case, was apparently dealing illegally with several New Jersey ADs, sending school districts fraudulent invoices for work that wasn't done, dummying up bids in order to receive contracts for future work and an assortment of other wonderful crimes. In return, Circle and Drill would then lavish gifts of cash and other items, like clothing and sporting goods, upon the administrators involved in the scheme.

For example, one administrator received a set of golf clubs and a handful of golf sweaters. Another received leather jackets and an assortment of clothing for his girlfriend.

The investigation has already led to the guilty pleas of two long-standing and respected athletic directors in Long Branch and Elizabeth and is on the verge of landing at least five more, now that the one particular bastion of goodness has decided to turn rat fink in return for cutting down on his jail sentence.

His attorneys have already told federal officials that he's not healthy enough to withstand a three-year jail sentence, which is the going rate for the crimes that the athletic administrator committed. Stay tuned. This case is FAR from over.

We've also learned that a prominent New Jersey high school coach and administrator is under investigation for getting a tad too close to the athletes in his school.

Apparently, this respected coach has become infatuated with one particular member of his school's athletic program and is bordering on being obsessed with the athlete.

We don't know if there has been anything going on at all with the coach and his teenaged athlete, but we do know that several parents are upset about the situation and have lodged complaints against the coach to his school.

It's a shame, because this prominent school doesn't need this kind of attention.

There's no room in high school sports for a coach getting that close to a certain athlete, but unfortunately, it is becoming more and more of the norm instead of the exception. You read stories all over the country about coaches becoming involved with their athletes. You just hope and pray that the rumors and allegations of impropriety by this coach are unfounded, but it doesn't appear that way.
We know it must be hard for sportswriters to come up with interesting story angles coming out of spring training. But the Star-Ledger today has an article about Justin Turner competing for the second base job with the Mets.

Are you kidding me? They're writing about a journeyman infielder competing for a second base job? How about writing about another player in that mix, namely Daniel Murphy, who missed all of last season with an injury and is now learning to play second base? That would be just a tad more interesting.

With all the circus going on in Port St. Lucie, the Ledger can't find anything better to write about than Justin Turner????

Where are the days when the Ledger clearly had the best baseball coverage in the area? Remember the days of Dan Castellano covering the Mets and Moss Klein with the Yankees? The Ledger kicked royal bootwa back then. No pearls of wisdom these days coming from the Grapefruit League from the young writers at the Ledger, who have to provide better coverage than what they have so far this spring.

Later tonight, we'll get the chance to see the alma mater take on Seton Hall at the Rock. Marquette suffered a horrific loss at home to Cincinnati last week, much to the delight of friend Darren Savino, currently an assistant with the Bearcats, so the Golden Eagle Warriors' NCAA hopes lie within a showdown tonight with the Pirates, who shocked a lot of people by beating St. John's Thursday night.

A lot of the bracketologists have Marquette firmly in, as high as a No. 10 seed in some cases, but I still think Buzz Williams' team needs a win tonight and a win in the first round of the Big East Tournament Tuesday to seal an NCAA bid.
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