Sachs Releases Statement on Departure from Salisbury

Andrew Sachs has released a statement for the first time since his departure from Salisbury University late last month:

My family and I would like to use this opportunity to thank our family, friends, my players and their parents, Salisbury alumni, and the Salisbury community for the massive amount of support we have received over the last month. I also would like to publicly share the reason for my departure, as the silence over the last month has left a vacuum for salacious rumors and untrue statements.  You can judge for yourself if this punishment was necessary, especially after all the good that has been done over the past three seasons.  I have heard this statement from many coaches, I thought athletic departments are supposed to help coaches not hurt them.

First, I would like to share the success the program has had on and off the court since I arrived.

I am a proud alumnus of Salisbury University and privileged to have served as the School’s head men’s basketball coach since 2015. My family and I are integral members of the campus and local communities, and my student athletes have always represented the University in a first-class manner both on and off the court.

My family and I attend Asbury Methodist Church and my children Derek (9) and Meredith (6) attend Salisbury Christian School.

I am an active member of the Salisbury Optimist International Club (Friends of Youth).  I have spoken at the Parkside HS Athletic Banquet and the Salisbury Rotary Club.  My team and I have been to Fruitland Primary School to read to the students and have also been to Prince Street Elementary School to hold a clinic for the students.

Along with James Simmons we were instrumental in helping organize and cement an exhibition with local Division I School UMES at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center with all proceeds going to help fund a badly needed new youth basketball league In Wicomico County.

Student attendance at SU Men’s Basketball games have tripled in the three years since my arrival.

I have helped organize midnight madness each of the last three years, and funded give-aways for students at halftime of games.

We have held four weeks of basketball camps during the summer two weeks on campus in Salisbury through US Sports Camps and two weeks in Ocean City at Northside Recreation Center.  Camp numbers have increased every year.  The feedback is FIVE STARS!

In my first three years, we have raised over $86,000.00 for the men’s basketball program, the most ever in a three year period.  I have organized a 25th anniversary banquet for the best team in school history.  And have tied together 50 years of Salisbury University Basketball through alumni relations.

I have organized alums to come back and speak to current players on business, networking and what employers are looking for in the work place.  We have done that on campus and on road trips to cities where SU alums live and work like NYC.  We have networked and brought together over 50 years of Sea Gull Basketball.

The fund-raising efforts have helped fund trips for student athletes to Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, NYC and the National Basketball Hall of Fame. These trips have given my student-athletes an experience they will never forget.

We just garnered money to help fund a foreign trip to Canada this upcoming August to help the team  see their senior co-captain Jack Ferguson who will be able to put his uniform on one last time with his teammates.  Jack was very recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.   This has weighed heavily on my mind since the end of August.

My players have also excelled in the classroom as evidenced by the fact that under my stewardship, SU has had the most Men’s Basketball student-athletes selected for the CAC’s All-Academic Team:

  • 2015-16 two all CAC academic players
  • 2016-17 five all CAC academic players
  • 2017-18 seven all CAC academic players

Also 2017-18 team had a 3.2 team GPA highest ever in program history

1/3 of the men’s basketball team is in the honors program at SU.

On the court, we have raised the national profile of the men’s basketball program significantly during my tenure. Specifically, the program has achieved:

• An overall record of 59-24 (the best start for any head Men’s basketball coach in School history)

This is also the best three-year record at SU since 1990-1993 when I was an assistant from 1987-92.

• Two NCAA Tournament appearances

• A national ranking each year for the past three seasons.

• 2016-17 season marked the first time in program history that the team had qualified for three consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  Team also received highest national ranking in the regular season, 5th in the country right before Xmas.  Last time SU was ranked that high was in 1991-92 when I was an assistant and were #2 in the country.

• 2016-17 team finished 20-8, including a 13-0 record at home.  Only 2nd time in school history team was undefeated at home (other 1984-85).

• 21-7 record in 2015-16 marked the most wins for a first-year head coach in program history and fourth most overall.  Did this without the best player who tore his labrum in the pre season.

• 2015-16 team finished #2 in the country in Scoring Defense, #11 in Steals and #12 in Turnovers create

2017-18 team finished 18-9 one game out of first.  8th in the country in steals.

I am Salisbury U’s all-time winningest coach percentage wise at 59-24.  This spans over 80+ years

Our success on and off the court has been instrumental in generating overwhelming support for the program throughout the local community.  Parents, student-athletes and community members have been unequivocal in their support of me throughout my tenure at Salisbury, especially in the time since I was placed on leave by the University.

I have built an upstanding program that is a great ambassador for the University and have done so without the benefit of a full-time assistant coach like most schools have at a national level.

Now I will tell you what I believe led to my unjust departure:

In three years I have received two level III (secondary) violations.  My predecessor also had Level III violations in his four years.

The first violation was in late March 2016 after our first season making the NCAA Tournament.  We had Lucas Martin on campus and we put “pick up with players” on his itinerary.  My seven-year old son was in my office for over an hour, so we went into the gym to shoot on the side and the players started to play and our AD walked in.  We were admonished with watching a video and sending all itineraries to my supervisor Dawn Chamberlin.

The next infraction was this past year.  We turn our meal ticket recruit list in at the end of the year and we had a lot of recruits in over the school year, sometimes I would not write their names on the meal ticket list when they visited and put them on at a later date.  We had a couple of recruits take two visits to campus during the academic year and they received meal tickets for their family twice.  You get one ticket for an unofficial visit and tickets for the parents on an official visit.  So I got a call from our AD and asked if what I wrote down was true and I said yes if its written down than it is true.  He said it was another violation I said OK then I made a mistake.  I called the NCAA for clarification and they said 11/11 times the penalty was pay restitution for the extra meals.  I told them I called the NCAA they did not like that, I said it was for clarification.  The administration made it seem like a big deal, and my admonishment was to go to this years’ national rules meeting in Denver and 3 years to the regional rules meetings, paid for out of my budget.  Also, I was to be limited to one meal ticket per recruit for the year, we had to turn all itineraries in again to Dawn Chamberlin.  They also verbally told me I had to get the meal tickets from her.  When I got back from minor surgery at the end of August, I walked into my office and was talking with Coach Nein and Jack Ferguson, I noticed the meal tickets were in an envelope on my desk.  The office was locked while I was gone, and my assistants never put the envelope there.  The next day my senior co-captain Jack Ferguson goes to the hospital with a then unknown illness.  Jack was at PRMC for 5 days and then I called a friend Ethan Leder, who was on the board at Johns Hopkins and whose son had played for us.  He had helped with a mother of one of our current players who has stage 4 melanoma and he got Jack into Hopkins immediately and they started doing more tests on him.   After Jack’s bone marrow biopsy at Hopkins he had to go back to Canada for insurance purposes.  He spent 5 days at Hopkins.   Being in Canada would make it harder for Ethan to help him due to their socialized medicine.  School had started and we had recruits down the next three weekends.  All of the recuit itineraries were emailed to Dawn Chamberlin before they visited and nothing was said about the meal tickets not being in her possession.  A week before our team camp I was summoned to the AD’s office and asked why the meal tickets weren’t in Dawn’s possession.  I told them I didn’t even think about it and I had pretty much spent every day talking to Jack, his family or Ethan.  My wife is a CPA was juggling two jobs and it was corporate tax season.  I was taking care of the kids, getting them to school, practice, etc…and we had to get our guys situated with classes, academic meetings, etc… So Dawn went down and grabbed the tickets and the ticket list.  I told both of them we used one ticket per recruit like we were told.  They had the 5 itineraries already sent to Dawn before each recruit visited and we had 5 names on the meal ticket list.  There were 5 tickets used.  They said the day after the initial meeting we had about the tickets I had told them I only gave out one ticket.  That is impossible because there were 5 tickets used, 5 names on the list and 5 itineraries sent BEFORE they visited.  I said one ticket per recruit and the facts show that there were 5 tickets used.  Also during this time, Ethan Leder had reached out to Sloan Kettering about getting Jack some experimental tests once his diagnosis of Histiocytic Sarcoma was confirmed, It is a rare aggressive cancer with no real course of treatment.  Jack had ordered a NGH Foundation test to hopefully find a mutation match to a study of one of the doctors at Sloan Kettering was doing on this disease.

The other issue was a team camp that we held on Sunday Sept, 23rd.  In early May, my assistants and I met about fundraising and we brought up some different ideas.  We had done a team camp before but didn’t make a lot of money doing it.  My assistants liked the idea of a team camp and I told them you get the teams for the camp they can keep the money that we would make after every one is paid out (trainer, officials, school) I copied the flyer we used for the Team Camp we had a couple of years ago and changed the date and the checks made payable to me.  I did not have my LLC set up.  I reserved the facility with Matt Nein our facilities director and I don’t know why our AD was not copied on it since the event was going to be in Maggs PAC.  My GA Daniel Eacho then sent an email blast out to schools in May, he also broke down the schools within driving distance and gave each assistant teams they needed to reach out to and follow up on the emails.  Each assistant was supposed to get 8 teams each.  We got through our June camps and July recruiting and we met again in early August.  Brian McDermott and Shawn Tucker my two volunteer assistants only had two committed teams each and Daniel Eacho had six.  I told them we shouldn’t do the camp, we would be lucky to break even.  So my GA sent another series of email blasts out to schools within driving distance.  Daniel also asked if he got more teams could we still do the camp and he would get more money for getting more than 8 teams.  I told him yes he would.  He was getting married in a couple of weeks and I knew he needed the money.  When I got back from vacation, I contacted the Officials Assigner for the Bayside Conference and asked him if he could get us some officials for the camp.  He said he could and when he had enough I told him to talk to Daniel about the camp schedule.  This was late August and Jack was in the hospital.    The only other thing I did for the camp was order chairs through support services and I don’t know if that generated an email to the AD since there were 60 chairs in the hallway at Maggs on the Thursday before the camp.  Three weeks had passed from the time I reached out to the Bayside Officials assigner and I hardly thought about the camp until I ordered the chairs.  I was busy with Jack’s situation and other important things for our program.  So we had the camp on Sept 23rd, we got an email that week about a liability waiver which we used for camp.  All players from each team signed that waiver form.  Apparently that was not the correct form to use.  Each team played three games.  We had 17 teams and teams paid in cash or checks made payable to me.  The fee was $275.00 per team.  My players kept score, worked for free and we had a paid certified trainer on site.  There were no injuries, and everyone had a good time.  Everyone got paid.   We paid our trainer in cash $300 and we have the receipt and payed the Bayside Officials assigner $1080.00 by personal check.  Monday afternoon I got a call from the AD who asked if I had a team camp on Sunday, which he already knew because he checks the camera every Monday.  I told him yes, I made the reservations in early May.  He said he didn’t approve the camp and wanted to know if I had insurance, wanted to know who worked the camp and other things pertinent to the camp.  So I knew I made some errors.  The next day Tue. Sept 25 I went over to see Lesley Staffeldt in conference services and told her I didn’t have a LLC set up and that she needed to bill me so she just back dated it and sent the bill.  Then I met with AD’s and told them we had the camp to help out my assistant coaches and they were saying it was possible NCAA violations, I told them I called the NCAA for clarification before coming to the meeting and the person I spoke to said he didn’t think there were any.  They did not like that because they deal with enforcement.  I was told I also broke some procedural rules and I needed to send them all the information I had.  Which we did.  I paid my assistants (Tucker, McDermott $215.88 and Eacho $1403.24) and the school $1460.00 through my LLC.  THIS CAMP WAS SOLELY FOR THE ASSTS THAT WE SET UP THE LLC AFTER THE FACT TO TRY AND REMEDY THE SITUATION THE FACT THAT CHECKS WERE MADE PAYABLE TO ME WERE INCONSEQUENTIAL BECAUSE A SINGLE MEMBER LLC IS DISREGARDED FOR TAX PURPOSES ANYWAY.  I did not personally get or want a dime from this camp.

In this same meeting on September 25, 2 days after knowing about the team camp, and the first part of the meeting was about the camp.   I was asked by athletic department administration to sign a statement stating that I knowingly lied about the 5 meal tickets used the first 3 weekends of school and that instead of saying one ticket per recruit, they said I told them I only used one. It further stated that I was aware that if I failed to follow one more school procedure or commit another NCAA violation, then that would be my third strike ($11 meal tickets and being in the gym with my son unbeknownst to me were “strike 1 and strike 2”) and I would be fired. I would not sign it because I know exactly what I said in that we had 5 recruits on campus over three weekends, 5 itineraries were sent to Dawn Chamberlin BEFORE they visited without a word said from her about not having the meal tickets in her possession, and each recruit received one meal ticket and they were written down on the meal ticket sheet. Why would I say I only used one ticket for 5 people?  I told them I used one ticket per recruit and when the meal tickets were returned there were only 5 used.  She had their itineraries before they visited.   They already knew I had the team camp on Sunday Sept 23, procedural mistakes were made, so they were well aware that “Strike 3” had already occurred.  In the letter there was no mention of the team camp.    This is obvious entrapment.

I left for a pre-planned recruiting trip on Wednesday September 26th, where I also traveled to see my co-captain Jack Ferguson and his family in Canada.  I wanted to give him his uniform, some gifts from our SAAC and tell him we would be playing up in Canada in August and he would be on the bench. (I received permission to make the trip with the state car provided by the university). I stopped in to see the AD before I left and apologize for the mix up with camp.  He told me “Andy, you are cavalier about rules and regulations and all you care about is basketball, basketball, basketball.”  It’s a quote I will take to my grave.  When I returned to campus on Monday morning, I was summoned to HR where I was given the option of resigning with a three month payout including payment for benefits, or being fired for cause, with no payment. There is no doubt I made a few mistakes with the camp, but I was completely surprised by the severity of the consequences.  The AD pushed his agenda and named an interim coach the next day with a press conference the day following that. You can ask any of my assistants and they will tell you that the camp was always intended to be for their benefit.  Everyone got paid:  the school, the officials, the trainer and most importantly my assistants.  I know what it’s like not making much money and they put most of the work into the camp.   After a long three-week period of discussing my options with legal support, I decided to sign the resignation with the stipulation that we mutually agree on the public statement to be released. Given that I was an at-will employee, there was not much law on my side. Also, since my daughter has an epileptic condition, I felt it was in the best interest of my family to end it this way. Much to my surprise, a statement was released without my consent 15 minutes after taking the signed original document to HR.  Another obvious ploy to push their agenda. We had seven days to rescind the offer and I was hoping during the seven days, the President would step in and make a decision like he told me, the players and the parents he would do.  With all that is going on in college athletics, they come to this decision which has ripped apart the men’s basketball program and devastated my family who love being here and having my players as part of our family.  Unfortunately, it is with a heavy heart that I leave the University, my program and my team.  However, I am leaving Salisbury University’s Men’s Basketball program better than when I arrived.


Andrew Sachs


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