MHS Rigged Bids for Sports Apparel

Monticello High School’s athletic director has pleaded guilty to rigging the bidding process for buying athletic apparel, CBS-19 reports, and did so in collaboration with Downtown Athletic. Fitzgerald Barnes—also a member of the Louisa Board of Supervisors conspired with a vice president of Team Distributors and the vice president of Downtown Athletic to create fake bids, ensuring that they’d get the required three bids, and that Downtown Athletic would be the lower bidder. That was a federal crime, but the punishment is just relatively small fines ($350–1,500). Downtown Athletic claims that they didn’t make any extra money off of this (something that cannot be known, since there were no competing bids), and the county school system says that Barnes did not personally gain from this. The school system has placed Barnes on administrative leave, and they’re considering whether he should keep his job.

7 Responses to “MHS Rigged Bids for Sports Apparel”


  • It’s interesting that the report says no financial harm was done. How do they know that? I have friends whose children participated in sports at MHS and they had to buy certain products at certain stores. Sounds like the parents of athletes got stuck having to pay at one place when maybe they could have gotten it cheaper elsewhere.

    I hope that they fire that guy. It shows a lack of integrity but then, maybe they just don’t care.

  • If it is as it seems, I find it pretty amazing that they’re considering keeping a person who has demonstrated serious errors in judgment. If it were my employee, I’d walk the man immediately and unequivocally. I’d have no hard feelings, but you can’t be wishy-washy about this kind of stuff. Of course I assume there is a lot more to the story than we will know publicly.

  • How is this different than Rick Barrick rigging bids at the City of Charlottesville? Isn’t this scenario similar? Didn’t Rick have to leave his job at the City? I realize Mr. Barnes works for the County. But both are government entities. Seems to me the rules should be very similar….

  • The school system shouldn’t be “considering” whether to fire him. Corruption is corruption, and if you get caught once you’ve probably gotten away with 9 other things.

  • I’ve got to agree. Bid-rigging is very serious, and there can be no demonstration of a lack of harm. Inherently, a lack of competition in the process makes it impossible to know whether the price could have come in lower. The fact that the perpetrator has hidden evidence of the impact of his wrongdoing isn’t a factor that weighs in his favor, but a factor that should weigh against him. It seems likely that he simply saw this as a method of avoiding an onerous bidding process, rather than theft, but the effect is theft.

  • Prolly the main reason this was done was to ensure the school wide use of a certain brand, which would include lots of goodies for the school from the “sponser.”

    Those guys (Nike/AND1) etc will do a LOT to get into a school and have hundred of their shoes/shirts/unis etc purchased. Yeah, the school buys the unifroms, but the kids almost always end up getting team gear that is paid for by the parents. Bags, warm ups, hoodies. When child 5 was doing her final year of high school sports she ended up with up with shoes/shirt/hoodie/bag/warm up pants and top. Spent over $350… for that season. Dont ask about the others…

  • Fire him and ban Downtown Athletics from bidding on any county for two years.

    If they let him stay, the message is clear that this is quietly tolerated.

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