Oct 31, 2013 7:49 PM by Tom McNamara
TUCSON - The playoffs start this Saturday for the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation.
But one team almost missed out on those playoffs, over a case of missing money.
The Tucson Steelers Cadet White Team posted a record of 5-1-1 this season.
So, why would the league stop these 8 to 11-year-olds from appearing in the playoffs?
Turns out, thousands of dollars have vanished from the team account.
Parents were told by the league on Monday night that the team would not be in the playoffs, since they couldn't pay the fees involved.
One parent, Gary Kaleta, asked "where is the money, this goes to the kids, this is a non-profit organization."
And fellow parent LeRon Avery chimed in, "I hate to accuse someone of stealing because I'm not sure of the whole facts. But I mean, something had to have happened."
Many of the parents told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, they've spent a thousand dollars or more for their kids to play with the Steelers this season.
And they said, like the 15 other teams in the 'Tucson Youth Football League," an individual team president handles all their money, to pay team expenses.
They said they were told that their fees would carry their kids through the season and into the playoffs.
Nadya Paredes said from the sidelines during a practice session this week at Jacobs Park, "it's heartbreaking, it's my first year for my child doing this, he competes in other things, it's the first year and it's rather disappointing and discouraging."
But that same night, things changed very suddenly for the team.
As the News Four Tucson Investigators were interviewing parents and coaches at the practice, the league president had called a meeting downtown.
By the time that meeting was over, the Steeler Cadets were back in the playoffs. And the team president, was no longer team president.
We won't name him, because no charges have been filed. And no formal accusations made.
But parents say they're now deciding what to do next about the missing team money.
We reached out to the former team president, who didn't return our phone calls.
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