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Basketball board unaware of CBC registration woes

Published: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Garvin Warwick... NBFTT President

The National Basketball Federation of T&T’s (NBFTT) failure to pay registration fees for the upcoming CBC Championships happened without the board’s approval or awareness.

This was acknowledged by two board members, yesterday, who, when contacted by the Guardian, said they were unaware that T&T would not be in the competition “until very recently”.

On Tuesday, the NBFTT issued a media release signed by its president Garvin Warwick, who said the federation is “aggressively engaging possible sponsors” to underwrite national-team expenses, development programmes and zonal competitions, “to supplement the NBFTT’s disappointing basketball subvention from the Ministry of Sport”.

This was in response to an article printed in the Sunday Guardian highlighting T&T’s omission from the CBC tournament caused by the NBFTT’s failure to pay registration fees by November 21, last year. T&T’s exclusion has, by default, ruled the country out of contention for a spot in the Centrobasket and other upcoming tournaments.

In the release, Warrick said among the challenges faced by the federation was the Ministry of Sport’s approval of only $900,000 out of its $6.4 million budget submission, more than half of which has to be used to clear debts.

“The submission was for $6.4 million, however, the ministry approved $900,000. Of the $900,000 the federation has to pay approximately $500,000 in outstanding debt which includes substantial arrears with mounting interest to the NIB, operational and prize money to zones since 2012; gratuity payments to staff; other administrative expenses related to 2014 as well as the expenses incurred by sending two national women’s teams to CBC and CAC respectively.”

It continued: “All this mayhem stems from the fact that the current administration inherited a national team that was registered with no budget to execute the trip as well as pay for regular day-to-day expenses. Meanwhile failure to participate after having registered could result in FIBA sanctions, not limited to fines and/or suspension. To compensate, board members accessed their personal funds as well as cut staff completely and opted not to pay any recurrent or outstanding bills in order to prioritise the 2014 CBC and CAC teams pending reimbursement from the ministry’s subvention.

“Since reimbursement from Ministry of Sport (SporTT) has not occurred and outstanding debt from other ministries has not been paid despite aggressive follow up, members could not afford to personally extend their financial resources any further,” Warrick noted.

However, even though the federation’s financial difficulties were acknowledged by those on the board and other stakeholders, they expressed surprise that the NBFTT made a decision not to pay the registration fees without consultation. 

Board member and president of the Basketball Coaches Association of T&T (BCATT), Clement Holder, said the topic was never brought up in any meeting of which he was present, or at least he never heard it being discussed.

He said, too, that even upon checking the minutes of past board meetings, the issue was seemingly never raised. 

Holder acknowledged that the federation had no money but noted that had the topic been raised back in November and been made public, a potential solution may have been found.

​...VP distances himself

Vice-president of the NBFTT (training, technical and support), Daron Lall, yesterday issued a letter to fellow board members distancing himself from the issue of non-payment of registration fees, saying he was never included in discussions by the board.

In his letter, Lall said he attended all board meetings in September and November, the annual general meeting (AGM) in December and the reconvened meeting in January. 

He continued: “Over the past four or five months, the president (Warwick) made a decision to leave me out of elected members meetings, which is unconstitutional and all decisions made from these meetings cannot be legitimate as all elected members were not given the opportunity to attend. Also no reports from these meetings were ever brought (sic) to the board of directors.”

Lall said, the group, of which he was excluded, had been labelled as the “Circle of Trust”.

“I must point out that as a board, we have allowed the general secretary (Claire Mitchell) and the president to act unconstitutionally on many issues and in most cases they have not once tabled a report (sic) of their decisions or accounted to the board for their actions.

“The surprising thing is that T&T’s participation at CBC 2015 was an urgent matter and the elected council or should I say ‘Circle of Trust’ never saw it right to bring it to the board’s attention.

“I call on the board of directors to call for the resignations of the president and the secretary for their consistent violation and disregard of the constitution and for failing to inform the board directors about T&T’s participation at CBC 2015.”

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