Allegations soil CSN’s baseball legacy

Tim Chambers didn’t feel comfortable commenting and left it at that. It’s the reaction you might expect when from a distance you watch a baseball program you built from dust into a national champion turned into one now facing allegations of rules violations and mistreatment of players by a new coaching staff, of allegedly charging kids for mandatory conditioning programs and food while allegedly promoting a culture of drugs and alcohol within locker room walls.

Seemingly overnight.

The folks at College of Southern Nevada need to know this isn’t going away any time soon, that they need to hope the independent investigator retained to explore the charges against coach Chris Sheff and his assistants conducts a methodical inquiry into the numerous charges and rumors about the reasons surrounding Sheff and why he might charge players to work out and eat.

Hard questions need to be asked and answered.

How were monthly payments made and to whom? Cash? Check? Where did the money go? What restaurant was used to provide the food and does it have a connection to CSN? Were there other times when players were asked to donate money as members of the baseball program? If so, why, and where did that money go? How far do the relationships between Sheff and those training his players reach?

All fair game now.

All important questions.

"If I’m not comfortable that the investigation is thorough enough, I as the chair for the audit committee for the Nevada System of Higher Education will call for a full blown audit investigation of that baseball program," regent Mark Alden said.

He should anyway. This needs to be as transparent an investigation as possible in fairness to Sheff and those making the claims.

If the allegations are untrue — that Sheff charged players $125 a month to participate in a mandatory conditioning program and $25 monthly for food, both clearly violations of National Junior College Athletic Association rules — you would think the coach would want as much. This is serious stuff, because what others are insinuating, if true, would mean thousands of dollars changed hands.

You would hope Sheff would want his name cleared on all this and be able to move forward and coach CSN’s program.

Sheff on Tuesday did not return a message left on his cell phone.

None of this is good, even at the allegation stage. It momentarily soils a program Chambers, now coach at UNLV, took years crafting into a national power, years where no such charges touched the baseball program.

The fallout, if any of the allegations are true, is simple: CSN would need to fire Sheff and his staff immediately. You can’t make kids pay monthly dues to do lunges with weights around tennis courts and then more money for some pizza and spaghetti and wings. That can’t be mandatory.

Sheff says it wasn’t; several players and their parents say otherwise.

A third party will now investigate and decide who is telling the truth.

What the mess does is highlight a coaching search that was flawed from the outset. CSN formed a committee to research potential candidates, and vice president for student affairs Arthur Byrd made the final recommendation to president Michael Richards.

That the process didn’t involve Chambers more or that his opinion wasn’t given more weight is laughable.

Chambers didn’t want Sheff, and depending on how this investigation goes the next few weeks, such a view could prove far smarter than most already believe it to be. If none of the allegations is proven and Sheff continues in his role, it won’t disguise the fact Chambers felt it better to go in a different direction.

Chambers had earned the right to have a much stronger role as the search played out. It’s not wrong to suggest he perhaps should have been given the power to name his successor. He started the program at CSN in 1999 and led it to two appearances in the Junior College World Series.

This just in: I’m guessing Chambers had a much better grasp on who would be best to run the CSN program than Byrd or Richards or anyone else who evaluated the issue or sat on a committee.

I’m also guessing those who offered their opinions on who was the best candidate were far from unanimous on Byrd’s final recommendation.

"Any time allegations are made, I’m concerned," Byrd said. "They need to be reviewed and a determination made about their validity. We hope to have (the independent investigation) completed in a few weeks. We haven’t worked out the final details."

There’s not much to work out. Someone is lying.

If the investigation is thorough, we should soon know who.

Either way, CSN baseball has seen far better days.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday and 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday on "Monsters of the Midday," FOX Sports Radio 920 AM.

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