Lottery Commission Suspends Downtown Coaches Club

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LANSING -- The State Lottery has handed out a one-year suspension to the Michigan State University football program.

Thursday, News 10 sat down with both Athletic Director Mark Hollis and (an exclusive) the booster club's lawyer. Both are confident the DCC will rebound -- but in the meantime, a string of violations has caught up with it.

"I made the decision today that we were gonna discontinue the 50/50 raffles at Spartan Stadium," Hollis said earlier Thursday, beating the State Lottery to the punch by essentially suspending the embattled Downtown Coaches Club for the 2011 football season.

"I really want a chance to take a look at the whole picture -- to take a look at, 'How are we funding the scholarships? How are we funding coaches' compensation?'" he said.

Hollis added that MSU will be conducting reviews of all its booster clubs to ensure they're in compliance.

The State Lottery, meanwhile, isn't due to release its findings on the current DCC case until Friday, but News 10 secured an exclusive interview Thursday night with Norm Gaffney, the lawyer representing the club.

"They're gonna not be allowed to have any 50/50 or raffle or anything of that nature from today until March 31 of 2012," said Gaffney.

Gaffney added the DCC will be on another two years of probation.

"I think it was fair under the circumstances," he said of the punishment.

Those circumstances are three separate Lottery investigations over the course of six years into excessive payouts to raffle counters at games, and an alleged string of excessive trips and office parties -- paid for, allegedly, with raffle proceeds.

But Gaffney maintains the mission of the club is a positive one, and holds just a few board members responsible for the violations, claiming they kept the rest of the club in the dark.

"The board was put on probation," said Gaffney. "And I would say 85 percent of the board did not know that."

Two past presidents have since resigned over the allegations.

As for what this means for the MSU football program, the DCC raises an estimated $100,000 in raffle proceeds every year. Hollis says he'd rather be without them -- until he's sure the funds are being raised properly.

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