The truth out, finally Holtrey speaks out

Excerpt of Troy Holtrey report to Springboro police

“Tom (Harves) started the meeting with apologizing and saying he was stupid, he said he has the resources and he was going to pay every single penny back and that he had been taking money out of the account. He was also hoping we could keep this between us and not go to the police.”

Through it all, Troy Holtrey remained silent. Why? Because that’s what he was told to do.

He remains loyal to his community and his profession. But the collateral damage from an unaccountable boosters fund while he was athletic director has cost him his passion, coaching Springboro High School boys basketball.

No one’s saying that for the record, but it’s an easy leap to conclude. Or perhaps it was from the fallout of pocketing summer camp funds. That was the accusation; it was never proven.

No matter; the damage is done.

Springboro will recover. So will its boosters program. So will Holtrey.

The healing started last week when boosters founder Thomas Harves pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated theft. He admitted to stealing $439,455.73 from the boosters. The real figure is unknown and thought to be much more. Unchecked, the pilfering is thought to have happened for all of the booster’s 20-year history.

Holtrey remains a teacher at the high school. The son of a longtime basketball coach, he remains respected throughout the area, first as a coach for 21 years and now as a vindicated innocent.

Here’s what he had to say about all that and more:

Q – Do you feel vindicated?

A - When everything was going down and everybody was saying different things, I sat back and said, I'm going to do the right thing. The right thing was to follow directions from the Springboro police and remain silent.

Q – But you wanted to tell your story?

A - Whenever you're dealing with money and there's an investigation, the public perception is to believe that somebody has done something wrong. On multiple occasions I called the Springboro police department and asked if I could release my police report for vindication so people knew that I had nothing to do with anything other than to help try and solve the case. If you comment on it, it would jeopardize the case for the athletic boosters and the Springboro school district.

Q - Why talk now?

A - The truth is out. My involvement is a piece of information (that) came to me that was a red flag. From there, I took that information directly to (athletic director) Rick Creager that day.

Q – What’s your history with Harves?

A - Twenty-two years ago I became the head coach. He had a son in my basketball program. For 21 years Tom was a leader in our booster organization. He was a great basketball parent. He had a good relationship with everybody. A year ago he was inducted into the Springboro Athletic Hall of Fame. He carried that much respect and along with that much respect went that much trust.

Q – What about your account to the police?

A - A lot of the information in there was how everything was discovered and the time lines and all those things were utilized. You're so unfamiliar with the process. I thought it would be three days, five days, seven days. It's never in your control and it's never anything that you have knowledge of. They were doing a very thorough investigation about a long period of time which took a long time.

Q – When did you realize something wasn’t right?

A - I created a spreadsheet to make the coaches fully aware of their accounts and every single transaction for all coaches. It was checks and balances to really keep the coaches accountable to what they had. When Tom (Harves) had told the new treasurer that the boosters needed money in the account asap, I said, there's no way. There's $150,000 in that account. That was the first red flag. … The spreadsheet that we created was critical for even me knowing how much money should be in that account. If it wasn't for the spreadsheet, I don't know that it would still be going on today.

Q – How did you find out about the theft?

A - There was a concern that something might be wrong, but no evidence. It was when (boosters president) Suzanne Edwards and Rick Creager gained access to the checking account and went to the bank to discover how much money was in that account that alerted everybody while we still had suspicions and concerns.

Q – What happened when Harves was confronted?

A - It was one of those surreal moments in my life that I just couldn't believe it. I was in the meeting where we questioned Tom. How much money was in the account? He apologized that he was taking money out. He was going to repay every bit of it. I can remember that moment vividly because I cared for the guy so much and I knew that this was major.

Q – What about the summer camp accusation?

A - Somebody made an accusation to the state auditor's office that coaches were running camps (and keeping profits) and that was fraudulent. (The school board) won't even share with you what the accusation was. … It was not an investigation. They were following up on an accusation that in my view was a flagrant accusation with the intent of causing problems that there was never any truth to.

Q – What reason did the school board give to you for not re-issuing your coaching contract last summer?

A - For a coaching position, (the school board) doesn't have to have a reason to get rid of you. They can simply say we'd like to go another direction. You don't have to do anything wrong. That's the nature of that business.

Q – What does Troy Holtrey do now?

A - I'm still in a position of analyzing what I want to do and what opportunities I might have. It's too early to make those decisions right now. My intent is to stay at Springboro and enjoy my daughter's senior year and watch my son go through the program.

Q – Do you ever see yourself coaching at Springboro again?

A - Yes, I could see that happening again at some point in time.

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