Filed under Showcase

The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Urbana giving Mennig a shot
Tue, 04/05/2016 | Fred Kroner – News-Gazette

URBANA — Chris Mennig has learned that clouds of doubt can give way to an outpouring of suspicion.

In the past 25 months, the high school girls’ basketball coach and former Illini assistant has experienced the extreme highs (a state championship season in 2014 at St. Thomas More) to the basement lows (being unable to receive a formal interview for vacant head coaching positions at Centennial and Central in 2015).

His troubles started nearly five years ago when he was subjected to Internal Revenue Service and FBI investigations for possible money structuring. Since then, Mennig has spent tens of thousands of dollars paying five different attorneys and had nearly three-fourths of his taxes-paid income for 2012 seized (and never returned) by the government under Civil Forfeiture laws.

It didn’t affect his ability to coach. He spent the past two years as the girls’ basketball co-head coach at Lawrenceville and recently helped the Indians tie a school record for season wins (21) as well as capturing their first regional championship in nearly a decade.

He expects to return to the sidelines closer to his home next season. He has accepted an offer to replace Jamal Maatuka (who resigned) as the head coach of an Urbana girls’ basketball program that has endured 20 losing seasons in the past 28 years. The Urbana school board is expected to act on the selection later this month.

It is a fitting vindication for a person who has never faced any charges or indictments.

“To the best of my knowledge from everything I’ve been told, it’s not (now) an active investigation,” Mennig said.

There was never a hint of impropriety at any school or with any athlete Mennig coached. The investigations centered around a series of cash deposits under $10,000 he made after Blue Star Basketball and USJN events earlier this decade at various locations throughout the country. He acted in the same manner the owner of the company has done for almost 20 years.

The 1970 law that has been revised several times is the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires banks to report any deposits, withdrawals or transfers of more than $10,000.

No such documentation is required for cash deposits under $10,000. Mennig believes he was red-flagged because of the nature of his business.

“To see the level of success in girls’ basketball tournaments, as one attorney told me, it doesn’t pass the ‘smell test’ that girls’ basketball could be this successful,” Mennig said. “We could have been the poster child for the government for small businesses that succeeded in a down economy.”

The ultimate irony is that the exact allegations leveled against Mennig are ones that the IRS has publicly said it will no longer pursue.

“Just days before the (2014-15) season at STM would have begun, the chief of the IRS Criminal Investigations said they would no longer pursue legally generated structure cases,” Mennig said.

He believes he is entitled to have his 2012 earnings returned, but said the whole process has been emotionally draining.

“I want to go back to a normal life, be with my family and have a gym to help develop young women on and off the court,” Mennig said.

One point Mennig has emphasized to his athletes repeatedly is one he has dealt with first-hand since 2011.

“One of my favorite parts of coaching is teaching young women to handle adversity,” he said. “The game starts to help build the character of resiliency. You can’t wallow in self-pity if something starts to go wrong.

“I’d like to think I’ve handled the situation with as much grace as I could despite having so many in this region want to discredit my name.”

During the time when Mennig was unable to land a coaching position locally, he was uplifted by the support he received nationally.

“Everywhere in the country, except in my own area code, they understood it had nothing to do with coaching or the girls,” Mennig said. “The WBCA community supported me without waver (and had him speak at two functions for college coaches at all levels during last weekend’s Final Four in Indianapolis), I was still consulting for Gatorade, remained a part of the McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee and our (Blue Star/USJN) business, tournament-wise, continued to grow.”

He has tried not to harbor bitter feelings about his dismissal from STM (where his teams were 197-51 in eight years) 51/2 weeks after the state championship, but acknowledged, “a friend once told me for every three years you date someone it takes one year to get over it. I’m confident that Urbana will help me fully heal my wound this coming year.”

As for expectations at Urbana, Mennig said, “it’s the same as when I started at St. Thomas More. Our hope and goal is challenging the young ladies to be consistent competitors that learn and respect the game. If the chips all fall in line for something more than that, then great, but we won’t walk in the gym, wave a magic wand and be back at Redbird Arena (site of the girls’ state tournament).”

He plans to have a hand in the district’s entire girls’ basketball operation.

“I’m looking forward to going into the elementary and middle school levels and teaching the game to kids,” Mennig said. “It’s a long-term investment that people without my passion for the game may not do.”

Mennig said Urbana is taking applications for assistant coaching positions.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    2016 IESA 8th Grade Regional Champions

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    2016-2017 JV Season Kicks Off

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    2016 IESA 7th Grade Regional Champions

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    2016 Turkey Tussle Champions

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    2016-17 Season Kicks Off

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    Urbana Guard Heading To Duke

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    Big Goals Behind New Look

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    Bitty Ball Program Begins (2nd-5th Grade)

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    News Gazette – 2016 Athletic Prep Year in Review

  • The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana

    Showcase

    Scott transfers from Schlarman to Urbana

The Future Begins – Mennig Hired at Urbana