UM professor Vreugdenhil’s foundation “cleared”, but investigation report not made public

UM professor Vreugdenhil’s foundation “cleared”, but investigation report not made public

Professor regrets “the appearance of a conflict of interest”

15-04-2024 · News

MAASTRICHT. The foundation Your Coach Next Door (YCND) of Maastricht professor and paediatrician Anita Vreugdenhil has “in no way engaged in incorrect conduct or irregularities”. This is “conclusively established” by an external investigation, the foundation writes on its own website, but the report itself was not released.

Last month, daily newspapers Trouw and De Limburger linked the foundation – which is closely intertwined with Vreugdenhil’s academic work at UM – to the supposed abuse at the basketball team Maastricht Rebels. Foreign players were allegedly underpaid, uninsured and playing without work permits. YCND works together with this team, organising basketball clinics to combat obesity in children. According to Trouw, the players’ contracts state that players received a considerable amount (sometimes running to 1,800 euro) for their ‘ambassadorship’ for YCND.

Last month, Vreugdenhil denied to Observant that the foundation pays players or sponsors the team. However, she did not provide insight in the annual accounts. At the beginning of March, she said that the supervisory board and the YCND board of governors would commission an external investigation. One month later, the Retra Advies in Zorg agency from Meerssen already has completed this investigation. The report itself has not been made available, only an account of the results, drawn up by the foundation, which does not include an overview of expenses and flows of money.

According to YCND, the investigation showed that “there are no signals of irresponsible or unlawful costs incurred by YCND” and that “the projects carried out are fully substantiated with documents”. The foundation states that this means it has been “cleared”. Vreugdenhil does regret “the appearance of a conflict of interest”, resulting from her relationship with Mike Rawson, the owner of Maastricht Basketball Holding, under which the Rebels come. She writes to have had “no intention of serving any interests other than those of the health of young people.” Vreugdenhil did not reply to questions by Observant last week.

Subsidy

It is unclear whether YCND can again depend on money from the Elisabeth Strouven Fonds (ESF) for the organisation of the clinics with the Rebels. Last month, the fund suspended further payment of the subsidy of approximately 50 thousand euro (of which 80 per cent had already been paid), waiting for the conclusions from the external investigation. “We have received the report from YCND and also carried out our own investigation,” a spokesperson for ESF stated. “We are hoping to make a decision shortly.”

Earlier, De Limburger reported that the city of Maastricht would also carry out an investigation into the practices at the Rebels, but that is not the case, says Peter Debets, management and communication advisor for the municipality. They did contact “various authorised bodies, such as immigration and naturalisation service IND and the Labour Inspection. It is primarily up to these bodies to look at the information and to act where necessary.” Aside from that, the city has reclaimed an emergency maintenance allowance that was unjustly issued to one of the basketball players, Debets reports.

Photo: Shutterstock

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: vreugdenhil,your coach next door,investigation,rebels,basketball,subsidy,research

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