HASTINGS, Minn. (KMSP) - Hastings High School assistant principal and head wrestling coach Josh McLay is now at the center of a criminal investigation.
The former wrestling star at the University of Minnesota is accused of taking $11,000 in school funds over seven years, spending that money on trips to Division I college football games like Notre Dame.
“Purchase orders for wrestling clinics were filled out at that time in which motel rooms, car rentals, gas, mileage, etc. had been paid for by the Fund 11 account and there were no wrestling clinics that were attended,” said Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Tim Collins.
Collins told Fox 9 a colleague in the business office notified him in October of the misappropriated money. Collins learned that McLay had been using a purchase card to book the trips. Most of the money was donated from booster clubs, families and local businesses.
“You set your system up where people have to sign off that’s an appropriate expenditure and if you’re writing wrestling clinic on the purchase order, it’s getting signed off on because there is a belief that you’re going to a wrestling clinic,” said Collins.
Collins was ordered to turn over the investigation to the Hastings Police Department. An investigator will now sift through documents to determine if there is enough evidence to criminally charge McLay.
"It appears to be a misappropriation of school district funds, which are public funds, and most of those come under the statute of theft, but again that would be up for a prosecutor to decide what if anything fits with what's being alleged," said Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer.
Fox 9 has learned that the school board decided to keep him on as a teacher, however, he must resign as assistant principal and coach by the end of the school year and face a 10-day suspension. He also will have to reimburse the district.
“I believe that he is paying a heavy price—I believe that when an individual like Josh loves wrestling, that’s what he’s done all his life and now that head coaching is being taken away, and I know some people listening to me are going to argue 100 percent that it’s not a heavy price,” said Collins.
Collins reached out to McLay's attorney today, but never heard back.
Chief Schafer says it will take a few weeks to complete the investigation.