Dunbar again taking it to wire

August 11, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

Dunbar football players are facing the same quandary they did nearly a year ago: With area practices scheduled to begin Monday, they again are unsure who their coach will be.

"It's like we're starting all over, and we're totally confused," said running back/defensive back Alli Culpepper. "Actually, I'm expecting the worst."

After former coach Pete Pompey was placed on paid leave nearly 13 months ago pending an investigation into alleged misuse of athletic funds, last year's squad discovered the day before opening practice that its interim coach would be Stanley Mitchell.

Pompey is requesting to return after Friday's announcement by Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms that his office had insufficient evidence to continue pursuing criminal charges against him.

However, Baltimore schools Superintendent Walter G. Amprey says he won't allow Pompey, also the school's former athletic director and coach of its nationally ranked basketball program, back at the school because of the damage the controversy has caused.

"This thing has continued to hang over our heads too long," said linebacker Tommy Polley. "I just think we need some kind of coach as soon as possible."

Yesterday, a written request to meet with Amprey was submitted on behalf of Pompey, the basketball players and their parents by Polley, Lori Phelps -- an attorney and a volunteer in the Poets' Scholastic Assessment Test preparatory program -- and the parents of two players.

"Coach Pompey's presence in the school makes a difference, and the entire graduating class paid the price of your decision to remove him pending the outcome of the State's Attorney's investigation," the letter to Amprey says. "Now that the investigation is closed and no charges have been filed, Coach Pompey needs to be reinstated at Dunbar High School. We would appreciate you scheduling a meeting as soon as possible. . . . "

Amprey is on vacation and is scheduled to return to work Monday.

The Dunbar players also plan to circulate a petition on Pompey's behalf tonight at a Craig Cromwell League game at Madison Square.

Dunbar principal Charlotte Brown is on vacation, and calls to her pager were not returned. But a source within Dunbar said Brown expects to "finalize the football situation on Monday."

Mitchell has applied, along with several others.

"[Brown] said she stopped accepting resumes on Friday," said Mitchell, who earned The Baltimore Sun's 1993 All-Metro Coach of the Year honors.

"I'll continue to prepare for the upcoming season as interim coach until I'm told different, but time is getting short and there are things that need to be put in place."

Gail Robinson, interim athletic director at Dunbar last year, said: "I haven't heard anything from Charlotte, but I think that it is totally dependent on what happens to Pete."

Paul Smith, interim basketball coach last year, declined to say if he had been reappointed.

Amprey has said "too much focus had been placed on putting Pete Pompey" at Dunbar when "we should be focusing on what's best for our kids instructionally."

Said Phelps: "I don't think he [Amprey] was informed enough to make some of his statements, but I'm in position to know what these kids' grades are all year long. All the grades of last year's basketball players dropped, with two kids being ineligible, but Pete encouraged three players to successfully improve their grades in summer school.

"If Amprey's concerned about what's best for our kids, he should get Pete Pompey back at Dunbar."

Pompey, 54, came under investigation in July 1993 after school board officials discovered several thousand dollars missing from Dunbar-operated concession stand he supervised at Camden Yards.

Simms' findings, including about 800 checks from four bank accounts, are now in the hands of the school board's chief counsel, Avery Aisenstark, of the education division. Aisenstark would not comment.

Though Simms said evidence was inconclusive, he criticized Pompey's bookkeeping as having "a pattern and practice of undocumented expenditures, poor management and an avoidance of accountability."

Said Pompey: "I've talked to at least four lawyers and two judges and I've been told that for a state's attorney to criticize me in the paper like that is irregular. I don't know Simms very well, but I thought his job was to prosecute criminals, and it's obvious that I am not one."

Amprey has said that he and a school board attorney will meet with Pompey and his attorney, William H. Murphy, who has said he will demand that Pompey be reinstated at Dunbar.

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