Former juco assistant sentenced to probation for fraud

Updated: December 5, 2005, 7:21 PM ET
Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. -- A former junior college basketball coach was sentenced Monday to two years of probation for falsifying players' federal work-study timecards.

Matt Skillman pleaded guilty in September to fraud and embezzlement while an assistant basketball coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend. He admitted mailing a falsified transcript for one player and completing academic work for others to help them obtain degrees.

Besides probation, the 30-year-old Skillman was ordered to pay $26,259 in restitution. He could have been sentenced to a maximum five years in prison on the embezzlement charge and up to 20 years for mail fraud.

His attorney, Steven Gradert, did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment. He has previously said his client was as motivated by pressure to win as by a "desire to produce players to the Division I schools and please coaches at higher levels."

Skillman, who worked at Barton County Community College for just eight months in 2002 and 2003, was part of a ring of fraud at the school that has led to numerous other charges.

Former head basketball coach David "Soupy" Campbell has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and is awaiting sentencing. He came to the college in 2003 to replace coach Ryan Wolf, one of three others accused of taking part in the scheme.

Wolf is accused of recruiting basketball players, then helping them get grants they were not qualified to receive and campus jobs that paid them for work they did not do. He has pleaded not guilty to 37 counts of fraud, theft and embezzlement. A hearing in that case had been scheduled for Monday in federal court, but was continued until Dec. 12.

Also charged are track coach Lyles Lashley and former assistant basketball coach Shane Hawkins, both accused of lying to a federal grand jury.

The scandal led to the firing of college president Veldon Law in July.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press