By Joe Malanaphy
Frank Lawrence, the athletics and recreation director at Brookdale Community College, was placed on paid administrative leave March 22, 2011 after he had been accused of mishandling last year’s Shore Conference Tournament proceeds by paying himself and staff members in cash and not withholding taxes.
“The Shore Conference paid me, I didn’t pay myself,” Lawrence said.
On April 2, State Administrative Law Judge Donald Stein decided that Lawrence should be reinstated as athletic director at the college.
“It’s been over a year, and it took a judge to rule that I be reinstated. It’s just unfortunate that it had to happen this way. It led the college to take on a process that could have been resolved in an easier manner. Instead of doing an internal investigation, they decided to do it from the outside. They decided not to interview me,
and I could have provided them with all their answers, but they made a decision that I shouldn’t be involved,” he said.
“I think this could have been resolved by spending an hour or two with my boss. We could have gone through all of the details that occured.”
To his credit, Lawrence had followed procedures for the March 2011 event just as he had in previous years, in which he had never been formally corrected on any of his actions by the school, the judge noted.
“This tournament is run by the Shore Conference; all we do is run the venue and provide some staff,” Lawrence said. “This is an event that has taken place since the mid 70’s, it’s not like this was a hidden event. They chose to run it in this manner for 35 years, then decided to all of a sudden change it and throw the book at me.”
Brookdale officials could not be reached for comment so it could not be confirmed how the school will comply with the judge’s order.
“It is not a Brookdale event, it is a Shore Conference event. I think that’s an important distinction.”
“The event was completely misunderstood by
people, and the interim president at the time [Dr. William Toms] had been there two weeks, and was reacting within the environment that was occurring from the fallout under [former President] Peter Burnham’s departure. People just reacted without finding out what the real truth was.”
“It’s affected the administration of the athletic department, but my staff has done a fantastic job, they’ve had a tough time with it though, it’s a shame we had to go through this.”
On whether or not Lawrence’s intentions are to return to Brookdale, he said “It is my intention to return, it’s always been my intention, and I’m looking forward to the Board of Trustees reinstating me.”