Baseball association apologizes for 'injustice'
The White Rock South Surrey Baseball Association has publicly apologized to two volunteers for allegations that were "from the outset, both unfounded and without any merit."
The statement, which appeared as an advertisement in Thursday's Peace Arch News, stems from sanctions issued against John Hogg and Graham Edwards in January 2011, in connection with events relating to the 2010 12-year-old White Rock all-star team.
Friday, Hogg said it marks the end of a "difficult and challenging" process that has led to changes he believes will ultimately strengthen the association.
"While saddened that it had to occur this way… I think that they're stronger as a result, and will be stronger moving forward," Hogg said. "While it's been painful for a lot of people, I think, inevitably, it has been positive."
Hogg and Edwards launched a civil suit last April, after an unsuccessful appeal of the sanctions, which had banned them from volunteering for two years.
The punishment was levied, the association said in a June statement of defense, in connection with alleged breaches of Little League rules, as well as the association’s own codes of conduct and all-star coach selection policy.
In their notice of claim, Hogg and Graham alleged the association failed to adhere to its own rules in issuing the penalty.
Thursday's apology – paid for by the association and endorsed by its president, Andy Johnston – states unequivocally that the executive of the day made a mistake.
"We have reviewed all the evidence available to us, and it is clear to this executive that the allegations brought against Mr. Hogg and Mr. Edwards were, from the outset, both unfounded and without any merit," the apology states, citing "clear evidence" that fair process, including the right to respond to allegations, was not followed.
"Based upon our review of the available documentation, it appears to this executive that certain members of the previous executive failed to understand and appropriately exercise their governance responsibilities to these two individual members, to (assistant coach) Mr. Steve Rebuck and to the association as a whole," the apology states.
"The association recognizes that the treatment of Mr. Hogg and Mr. Edwards was an injustice to them and to their families.… This injustice has impacted not just these individuals but others who found and continue to find these events unacceptable and not reflective of the association we aspire to be."
Hogg declined to comment on specifics of the resolution reached, citing respect for the process, but said the apology "speaks effectively to where things are at."
He praised the current executive for giving the issue a thorough, fair and respectful review. The situation took a positive turn in the fall, following the association's annual general meeting, he said.
Asked if the claim had been dropped, Hogg said only that it has been "resolved."
Hogg's lawyer, Janet Winteringham, would also not go into specifics. She echoed Hogg's sentiments about the current executive's handling of the matter.
"The current executive… has just been first-rate in dealing with John and Graham's claim, working with us towards reaching a resolution that everybody is satisfied with, and allowing the association to go back and focus on the youth in the community, which is always what it should have been able to do."
Hogg said while he would not recommend that other organizations go through the same experience, he believes valuable lessons have been learned.
"I do think there's lessons in the importance of having board members aware of the importance of effective governance practices for healthy organizations, and I think our baseball association is now in a place where they're in a much better space to be able to deal with that moving forward.
"And now, the association can return their focus to our youth and our participants, which is where it needs to be."
The apology notes a review of the association's discipline policy is underway to "make whatever amendments or to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure as much as possible that a repeat of this breach of fair process and pursuit of unfounded allegations, cannot be repeated."