As nonprofit youth sports has grown into a multibillion-dollar national enterprise, cases are increasingly cropping up of six-figure thefts by volunteer leaders of local leagues, highlighting a lack of oversight and regulation of organizations built on community trust, The New York Times writes.
Some 14,000 youth sports groups collectively raise about $9 billion a year, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Amid the boom, investigators and prosecutors in several states say embezzlement investigations involving youth sports have become common, usually centering on unpaid treasurers, board members, and other officials who are highly regarded in their communities.
In the last five years, such cases have produced hundreds of arrests and convictions in 43 states for thefts of up to $560,000, the Times reports, citing a study of news accounts and a database compiled by the Center for Fraud Prevention. “There’s always a lot of cash involved in these organizations, and whenever there’s cash, there’s people eyeing the cash,” said Tim Delaney, president of the National Council of Nonprofits.