Sept. 08, 1997
Sept. 08, 1997

Table of Contents
Sept. 8, 1997

Faces In The Crowd


Two years ago Bob Shannon, who had won six state football
championships and the 1985 USA Today national title at East St.
Louis (Ill.) High, quit his job in protest, charging that school
supervisors were robbing students in the hardscrabble district
by mismanaging funds (SI, Oct. 30, 1995). Last week federal
prosecutors announced the indictment of the school's athletic
director, Arthur May, on four counts of embezzlement and three
counts of making false statements to the IRS. The indictment
claims that from 1993 to '96, May embezzled more than $10,000 a
year from the strapped East St. Louis school district, which was
so ill-managed that control of its finances was handed over to
an outside oversight committee in '95. (May did not return phone
calls from SI.)

This is an article from the Sept. 8, 1997 issue Original Layout

The oversight committee had been unsuccessfully looking into
financial corruption at the school district when Shannon
publicly accused May of mismanaging money earmarked for football
and blasted the district for idly standing by. Investigators
said his willingness to quit after coaching the Flyers for 19
years resulted in dozens of anonymous tips about possible
corruption in the school district. "The reason the FBI was able
to do this investigation was Bob Shannon," Richard Mark, head of
the oversight committee, said last week. "Things are getting
better in East St. Louis because of the stand he took."

The Flyers went to the Class 5A semifinals in 1995 after
Shannon's departure, and they were 9-2 last year. Shannon,
meanwhile, has taken his .858 winning percentage and moved down
the road to conference rival Alton (Ill.) High, where this fall
he starts his second season as coach of the woeful Red Birds.
"This program was at an alltime low when I got here," he says.
"We were 2-7 last year, but we're going to win some games. I
want these kids to feel what we had at East St. Louis, to feel
winning. I've been fortunate enough to win a lot. Now I'm
starting over."

Still, Shannon's thoughts are very much with his old school and
its community. "I'm not happy about the news [of the
indictment], but it doesn't surprise me. If they clean it up
over there at East St. Louis, that would be my biggest win of