Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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How to lose money and influence people (to hate you)

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Pictured above: the dartboard cover for the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage

It’s not on the company’s FAQ (yet), but the most-asked question of online sports registration and league management company Count Me In is, “Where in the hell is my money?”

The Bellevue, Wash., based company is getting sued like crazy after losing, at last count, a collective $5 million in sports registration fees and donations that it has never forwarded to the leagues that hired it to take organization out of the hands of incompetent, time-pressed parents and volunteers and into the hands of really, really incompetent, time-pressed professionals.

Founder and CEO Terry Drayton’s (above, before he had to run away from the pitchforks and torches) confessed inability to manage time, money and communication make you pine for the dim-bulbs on your Pop Warner board. From the Jan. 1 Seattle Times:

Terry Drayton admits to sloppy financial management and says he’s determined to find investors so he can pay back $5 million to sports organizations across the country that used his Bellevue-based company to collect online donations and registration fees.

Drayton, founder and CEO of Count Me In Corp., said he was close to a deal in September. Negotiations fell apart after a New Jersey soccer club filed a federal suit seeking payment of $142,000, money Drayton said he doesn’t have.

He’s in talks with three investment groups but worries they, too, could back out now that three sports organizations in Alaska have filed a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle seeking to force Count Me In, or CMI, into involuntary bankruptcy. Those groups are seeking payment of nearly $175,000.

If he’s forced into bankruptcy, Drayton said, none of his clients will get their money back because his company doesn’t have assets to liquidate.

“What everybody really wants us to do is call them and tell them their check is in the mail,” Drayton said. “I can appreciate they’re very angry with us, and I’m very apologetic. It’s not something we wanted to do or knowingly did.”

But several local Little League presidents said they’re furious that CMI continued to collect fees until a couple of weeks ago, knowing the company was in dire financial straits. They praised CMI’s software and technical support but said they feel robbed.

They say Drayton and others at CMI haven’t returned phone calls and have only sent mass e-mails with vague information.

Drayton confirmed that he hasn’t talked to clients but said CMI has been overwhelmed with calls — logging more than 1,000 in a single day.

Meanwhile, Drayton has other problems with other organizations. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is investigating Count Me In over $75,000 in monies it allegedly owes five Connecticut Parent-Teacher Association branches, including one in Blumenthal’s home city of Greenwich.

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Written by rkcookjr

January 2, 2009 at 4:38 pm

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