(CBS) — A high school athlete, along with parents of other players, says they have to pay thousands of dollars to private sports clubs or risk getting cut from their school team.
The allegations include coaches blurring the lines and having conflicts of interest at Chicago Public Schools. CBS 2’s Dave Savini investigates whether students are pressured to pay to play.
Whitney Young Magnet High School’s volleyball team is one of the best in Chicago with competitive players who win championships and hope to earn scholarships.
The team means “just about everything” to one senior who does not want her name used. She says she had been a starting player for Whitney Young since her freshman year, but then she was cut.
She was cut from this year’s team, she says, after she quit playing for a private volleyball club. The private club coach and Whitney Young public high school coach were the same: Jaime Walters.
“It’s all connected, which it shouldn’t be,” said the senior, who believes she suffered retaliation. “This whole club fee should have nothing to do with Whitney Young at all.”
The player’s mother, along with the mothers of two other players, all say it is a conflict of interest to coach the high school and club teams. Other moms — whose names CBS 2 also is not using – say athletes must “pay to play” at some schools in the Chicago Public Schools system.
They say their daughters were either benched or cut after they switched from the private club where the coach also worked.
“This is what will happen if you pull away from the club, regardless of how good of a player you are,” one mother says.
“It’s about the money,” another parent says. “You’re talking about maybe $1,300, maybe $1,400 per player, just for dues.”
Their daughters all played for the club called Powerhouse, where Walters coached them. The former owner, Joel Anderson, is a CPS coach at Walter Payton.
“I think that there should be a greater degree of oversight,” says one mother. Her daughter, a Division 1, college-bound senior, was pulled as a starter at Whitney Young when she quit the club, the parent says.
“She was the only scholarship player and she was the one who was riding the bench.”
“What hurts me the most is that I trusted the coach, and I gave her my all,” says the Whitney Young senior. “I miss just putting on that jersey.”
CBS 2 has been unable to Walters, the Whitney Young coach.
Anderson, the Walter Payton coach, no longer runs Powerhouse. He now co-owns another private club, where he says Walters coaches, too. Anderson denies a pay-to-play atmosphere, and says only some of his high school players go to his club.
CPS indicated officials are looking into the complaints.
“This matter is under investigation to review compliance with the Board’s ethics and disciplinary policies,” according to a written statement.
The CPS Inspector General would neither confirm nor deny a separate investigation.