Eagles board urged to answer questions about field, allegations of misuse of money

cconley@islandpacket.comApril 14, 2012 

Supporters of the Sam Bennett Sports Complex are asking members of the facility's oversight committee to publicly address claims that money intended for the baseball field was misspent.

Allegations of financial misconduct have been floating around for nearly three years, some supporters say, and many people involved with the program say they're tired of waiting for action.

"We need to get some progress on this whole money issue," Shauntel Green said during a community meeting Saturday at Eagles Field on Buck Island Road near Bluffton Parkway.

Meeting organizers plan to send a letter to the panel -- the Bluffton Eagles Community Action Committee -- urging it to hold a public forum by the end of April. The nonprofit committee oversees the 14-acre sports complex.

Green was one of about 20 people who attended the community forum. Some of them also questioned the condition of the field and complex. Others wanted a fuller accounting of the facility's financial status. The oversight panel was also urged to consider uses beyond baseball, citing a waning interest in the sport by both players and spectators.

No hard-and-fast answers emerged from the meeting about how much money was allegedly misused or how it was spent. The group has not reported the matter to police and it's not clear if the accusations are criminal in nature.

Joe Green, vice president of the committee, said earlier this week that money that was supposed to spent on the field was spent for other purposes. He said the matter was being investigated internally.

"It's still a gray area," complex supporter Sharon Brown said Saturday. Later, she only said the money was "mismanaged."

The money is believed to have come from various grants and donations. Bluffton Town Manager Anthony Barrett said last week the town provides no money to the organization.

Green was the only member of the action committee to attend Saturday's meeting. He said it's been 18 months since the committee formally met.

The field is home to the Bluffton Eagles and the B-Town Hawks, who play against other clubs from across the Lowcountry.

This year's season is set to begin in two weeks.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.

Related content:

Committee meeting to address allegations of misuse Bluffton Eagles Field money, 04/12/12

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