No more stealing from kids? Lawmaker wants youth leagues to open their books
A proposed New Jersey law aims to take the financial practices of youth sports leagues out of a "dark corner" by creating reporting and records requirements that many state residents may be surprised to learn are not already in place.
The legislation introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, comes as the former president and treasurer of Holbrook Little League reportedly work toward a plea deal in response to their alleged theft of almost $120,000 from the league.
Dancer said that's one example contributing to more than $1.4 stolen from leagues in Monmouth and Ocean counties alone in the last 10 years, according to an Asbury Park Press investigative report.
"You're stealing form the kids, the families and the teams," Dancer told New Jersey 101.5. "We obviously need to put a stop to this."
Under the bill, nonprofit youth athletic organizations such as Little League and Pop Warner would be required to maintain a website that provides access to the league's financial statements and tax returns, among other documents. The website would also have to include all meeting agendas and minutes, and provide at least five days' notice for meetings.
The bill also prompts the Division of Consumer Affairs to produce "Best Practices and Recommendations" Guidance for these organizations. The leagues would also be required to have an audit performed annually.
Under current law, these leagues are required an annual financial statement with the federal and state government. But, according to the bill's language, many leagues fail to comply.
The legislation notes it's common for volunteers to manage and lead these leagues, and volunteers are often "unequipped to ensure financial compliance with state or federal laws or professional best practices."
"Temptation will run high when you keep the money hidden away in a dark corner," Dancer said. "We're going to shine a light on the books and keep everything on the up-and-up."