Accusations were lobbed at the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club’s Board of Directors at the March 3 RSF Association meeting. RSF Association board member Mike Licosati read an open letter from RSF Tennis Club board member Scott DeGoler about what he feels is “negative leadership” at the club.
DeGoler could not be at the meeting but wanted his statement to make the official minutes.
“All is not well at the Tennis Club,” wrote DeGoler, who was elected to the board 18 months ago. “The current leadership has created a majority faction thereby not collaborating with 100% of the elected board members and purposely withholding club information and Association communication intended for the whole TC BOD, as well as manipulating information to push forward their own personal agenda and creating such a negative environment that the resignation last week of a Board Member, Paul Le Beau, is not the first (Cindy Leonard resigned during my initial term due to the same negative ‘Leadership’).”
Due to the “negative leadership,” DeGoler wrote that the tennis board and the Association will continue to lose membership, revenue and continue to risk liability by mismanagement.
DeGoler proposed several solutions, such as the Association hiring a full-time manager to run the daily business, run all revenue through the Association, folding the website, marketing, IT and court reservation systems into the Association system and having all hires be vetted and approved by the Association, including background checks.
DeGoler also requested that the Association draft new bylaws and revise the operating agreement with the club, that the current RSF Tennis Club board be dissolved and that a new board of five seats rather than nine be instituted with term limits.
“The controlling faction strategically ran unopposed thereby creating a majority faction and an ineffective board,” DeGoler wrote.
RSF Tennis Club President Barbara McClanahan was in the audience when the letter was read and was taken off guard.
“I was shocked that the letter was even read and we hadn’t been given any notice,” McClanahan said. “I just felt that the comments and statements made were defamatory and inaccurate.”
RSF Tennis Club board member Chris Finkelson said she was on the court when word of the letter spread. She questioned why the letter was singled out to be read when it was, not during public comment but during committee liason updates. She said the fact that it was read by a board member gave the impression that it had been vetted for accuracy.
“It ambushed us as a tennis club and ambushed the membership at large,” Finkelson said.
McClanahan took issue with the claim that there is a “major faction” on the board. She said the so-called majority faction is representing the views of the 72 percent of the tennis club membership who voted against a Covenant Club facility on the golf and tennis campus in a club survey.
“We are representing the majority of our members. He considers that to be a faction when it’s really just our duty,” McClanahan said.
Finkelson said DeGoler ran on a platform of supporting the Covenant Club and was even selected to represent the tennis club board on the Covenant Club design subcommittee. However, after the results of the survey, she said DeGoler informed the board that he would be representing his own views and not the tennis club.
McClanahan said it is frustrating because the tennis club has already been working with the Association to address many of the suggestions DeGoler made. She said the tennis club board has been working with Don May, the Association’s finance and operations manager, about re-doing the club’s accounting to match the Association’s new system and have met with RSF Association Manager Bill Overton and a HR (human resources) representative. McClanahan said she hopes to continue a positive working relationship with the Association and its board.
RSF Tennis Club board member Dave Van Den Berg said the tennis club board is a hard-working board that puts in a lot of time trying to make the club a vibrant and successful place. He said DeGoler might not have been aware of the work already in play as he hasn’t been in attendance for working sessions on finance, HR, staff and budget, as well as sessions drafting the club mission statement and business plan. He said DeGoler also never asked that any of his items of concern be placed on a board agenda.
Before having Licosati read the letter aloud on March 3, RSF Association President Ann Boon and Overton briefly discussed whether it should be read in open or closed session and they determined it could be read openly at the meeting during the tennis club liason report.
The tennis board members said they intend to discuss DeGoler’s letter and how to move forward at their next meeting on March 9 — Overton said he plans to attend that meeting.
“The (Association) board has asked me to do some research and I’m in the process of doing that,” Overton said. “(The tennis club board) been very open with us with budget things and I will have some recommendations for this board and that board soon.”