Bulldogs team faces split of organization

Football program trying to settle financial dispute

Howard At Play

April 06, 2003|By Lowell E. Sunderland

Negotiations continued into this weekend to settle a dispute that includes allegations of financial irregularities and other issues that have two parent groups fighting over the youth football program that competes as the Columbia Bulldogs.

"When this sorts out, there'll be two organizations - that's become definite," said Mike Milani, who as the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks' community sports supervisor has been mediating the dispute.

"It means, though, there'll be more opportunities for kids to play football," said Milani.

He said lawyers representing Tricia and Larry Stokes, who lead the original Bulldogs organization, and Bernie Dancel and Melvin Powell, who have formed a new one, are doing the negotiating.

"Basically, it's in their hands," the county employee said. "They're working out a settlement, dividing up assets - that kind of thing."

The new group has solicited players and their parents to leave the original group and join the new one.

Troubles within the club surfaced in late January, when the Dancel-Powell faction pushed to double the number of teams in the club fields, only to be told not enough money was available to do so.

But Dancel, president of a Columbia financial services company that he founded and a coach in the organization, disputed that response. He said he had arranged for about $90,000 in donations to the club in 2000 and 2001 to foster expansion.

Tricia Stokes, who became president of the Columbia Football Association Inc. a year ago, said last week that "we obviously have some financial irregularities."

The nature of those problems remains unclear.

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