Arguments over money and a personality conflict between high-ranking members of the organization have caused the D.C. Striders to dissolve their senior track and field team, a group of world-class athletes that has operated out of Washington since 1972.
The seniors' coach, Fred Sowerby, said he questioned bookkeeping practices of club President John O'Boyle and Executive Director of Glenda Moody at a March 13 meeting of the club's board of directors. He was upset, he said, because O'Boyle proposed to cut the seniors' funding from about $7,000 to $2,000 for the coming year.
Eight days later, Sowerby said O'Boyle told him the seniors program was dead, that it was too expensive. O'Boyle is out of town and could not be reached for comment, but Moondy confirmed Sowerby's account of why the seniors program was dropped.
John Perazich, an attorney who is the club's chairman of the board, said the club, in response to Sowerby's charges of sloppy bookkeeping had its financial records audited and is satisfied that neither O'Boyle nor Moody have turned significant funds to their personal use.
"Glenda readily admits her telephone bills, paid by the club, contain some personal calls," Perazich said. "And from now, they'll be billed separately.We did say this was a bad business practice, but nobody got on his high horse. Glenda hadn't received some of her salary and we looked on it as a trade-off of sorts."
Moody said her bill contains perhaps $20 a month in personal calls. The Striders, which operate on public donations, pay Moody a salary of $500 a month.
Perazich also said the Striders' books are open to inspection by any club member or official.
Beyond the money arguments, the Striders seniors were victims of a personality clash between Sowerby and Moody.
By working with inner-city athletes - and others from surrounding areas - the Striders' aim is to develop college-quality athletes and help them gain scholarships. Moody says the Striders have helped 600 athletes - "more than 50 per cent of them fro D.C." - earn scholarships.
"Sowerby wanted more money and that was going to hurt the high school program," Moody said. It is Sowerby's contention that the abolition of the seniors "is going to ruin" the high school program because "we are the inspiration to these kids."
And there, sources said, is the root of the conflict. Both Moody and Sowerby consider their programs the most important part of the Striders' organization. Neither was willing to compromise, these sources said, and the Striders' president, O'Boyle was left with a decision: get rid of Moody or get rid of Sowerby and his seniors.
"The basic question was, what are we here for?" said Marin Zuesse, the club treasurer and member of the board. "Are we here to help kids get cholarships? Or to get mileage from publicity the seniors get? We were happy with the publicity as long as we could afford it. But funds are always quite a problem, and Glenda has a marvelous record of accomplishment."
The decision was left to O'Boyle, who canvassed all 18 board members. A source said the board was unanimous in its support of Moody, even if it meant the loss of the seniors program