CSN to seek help in Sheff investigation

The College of Southern Nevada will hire an independent reviewer as part of its in-house investigation of first-year baseball coach Chris Sheff, the school announced Tuesday.

Dr. Arthur Byrd, CSN’s vice president for student affairs, said the school wanted someone with expert knowledge of National Junior College Athletic Association rules to assist as it looks into several allegations against Sheff, including whether players were inappropriately charged for a mandatory conditioning program.

The reviewer, whose name was not released, was recommended to the school by the NJCAA and Scenic West Athletic Conference, Byrd said.

“This is our first experience at this college with any sort of review such as this,” Byrd said. “We wanted to make sure we had someone with expert knowledge of NJCAA rules, and we didn’t have that type of expertise internally.”

Sheff was hired July 9 as baseball coach and athletic director. Because the athletic director would typically investigate allegations such as the ones made against Sheff, a third party was needed to avoid a conflict of interest, according to school spokesperson K.C. Brekken.

“CSN’s highest priority for this is doing right by the students and the team in accordance with NJCAA rules and regulations,” Brekken said.

Byrd declined to comment on specifics of the investigation except to say the school would review all “reasonable allegations” it has received. Multiple unnamed sources said players were required to pay $125 to participate in workouts with personal trainer Corky Field, which would violate NJCAA rules.

Sheff said last week the conditioning program with Field was not mandatory. Sheff did not return messages Tuesday seeking comment.

CSN won the junior college national championship in 2003 and gained national attention last season when it advanced to the NJCAA World Series with freshman sensation Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft in June by the Washington Nationals.

“This program has a history of excellence,” Byrd said. “We want to make sure it continues to have a history of excellence.”

Byrd said he expects the investigation to take a few weeks.

“It needs to be thorough,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s neutral, that it’s clean and it’s complete.”

Sheff also was accused by the parents of several former and current players of being verbally abusive. Earlier, the school looked into allegations that a member of the coaching staff had marijuana in the clubhouse and found no evidence that drugs were used or had been present.

Also, several unnamed sources said players were charged $25 per week for food that was delivered after practice. Assistant coach Scott Baker said Tuesday that all the players knew paying for food was optional and that a list was posted of those who chose not to eat.

“I would rather have an investigation than not,” Baker said. “We have nothing to hide, and after the investigation I think everyone will know that.”

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0294.

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