Pompey placed on leave while funds probed Concession at Oriole Park believed to be Dunbar focus

August 12, 1993|By Jerry Bembry and Lem Satterfield | Jerry Bembry and Lem Satterfield,Staff Writers Derek Toney contributed to this article.

Dunbar High coach Pete Pompey, who a little more than a year ago led the basketball team to a mythical national championship, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation alleging misuse of athletic department funds.

According to a Baltimore schools spokesman, details concerning the charges -- believed to be related to theoperation of a concession stand at Oriole Park -- have been turned over to the state's attorney office, which could pursue criminal charges.

Beverly Carter, a spokeswoman with the state's attorney office, would not comment on the matter.

A decision on the status of Pompey, who is also the athletic director and football coach at Dunbar, could come when Walter G. Amprey, Baltimore schools superintendent, returns to work from vacation on Monday. High school football practice begins Saturday, and it's unclear who will be coaching Dunbar.

Attempts to reach Pompey yesterday were unsuccessful.

Nat Harrington, the Baltimore schools spokesman, said Pompey's administrative leave "was prompted by inquiries being made into the mishandling of the Dunbar High School Athletic Club account, specifically the financial aspect." Harrington said he did not know how much money was involved.

"The funds that flow through the Dunbar High School Athletic Club derive from activities in the Dunbar High School athletic program," Harrington said. "Apparently, the allegations concern concessions at the stadium. I don't know the specifics, but there's an internal investigation, and we've turned some information over to the state's attorney office."

Dunbar High School is one of many groups that have an association with ARA Leisure Services, which operates the concessions at Oriole Park. According to Larry Smith, group manager for ARA, various non-profit groups staff the concession stands during games in exchange for "on average between 7 and 10 percent of the profit."

Smith said Dunbar has staffed a booth at baseball games the past two to three years. The last day the school operated a stand was July 17.

Pompey's fellow coaches expressed surprise when told of the investigation into one of the premier high school basketball programs in the nation.

"I'm at a loss," said Woody Williams, basketball coach at Mervo, who said he hadn't heard about the investigation. "It's a surprise and a shock."

Paul Holmes, head basketball coach at Northern, who served as an assistant to Pompey for five years, also was taken aback.

Holmes said he spoke to Pompey on Aug. 2. "He asked me if I heard anything about what's going on, and he said [he was being asked] some questions," Holmes said.

"I don't know exactly what they could be looking for as far as financial matters," Holmes added. "While I was there, I saw no hint of any improprieties.

"Those financial matters were in the hands of the athletic director, and, as athletic director, whatever decisions he made, I'm sure it was for the school's best interest."

Bucky Lee, assistant basketball coach at Dunbar last season, said Pompey has been an upstanding member of the community.

"I don't see how anybody can say anything bad about him," said Lee, who was aware of the investigation. "I don't know for what reason this is happening, and I don't know what allegations they can make."

Pompey came to Dunbar in 1986, replacing Bob Wade, who had left to become head basketball coach at Maryland. Before arriving at Dunbar, Pompey was better known as a football coach at Edmondson High, where his teams compiled a 100-40 record and won three Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference titles in his last six years.

He also coached both sports at Dunbar, but earned his name as coach of the nationally known basketball program. The highlight of his career came after the 1991-92 season, when USA Today named Pompey the national Coach of the Year after he led Dunbar to a 29-0 record and the No. 1 ranking.

A graduate of Douglass High, Pompey had a stellar career as a quarterback at Morgan State. When his college career ended in 1963, Pompey played two years with the New York Jets as a defensive back.

Through his years of coaching in Baltimore, Pompey has become well-known for his commitment to youth.

"I do know that Coach Pompey is a good friend of mine, and I will support him," Holmes said. "I look upon him as a mentor, and I think I grew in my profession as a result of working with him."

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