Carl Scheer, nearing the end of his second season as executive vice president and general manager of the Clippers, apparently is in danger of losing his job for reasons ranging from the team's poor performance to his alleged misuse of company funds.
Donald T. Sterling, Clipper owner, and Andy Roeser, the club's chief financial officer, have reviewed what Roeser has said are personal charges on Scheer's Clipper expense account. Sources say that they also are evaluating Scheer's leadership role in the organization's day-to-day operation.
According to team documents, Scheer charged personal purchases worth nearly $10,000 to the club. The documents also indicate that Scheer, through paycheck deductions imposed upon him by team management, has repaid nearly all of the money.
Sterling also has been dissatisfied with the Clippers' record--25-42 after Friday's 105-104 victory over Sacramento--and reportedly has put part of the blame on Scheer. But sources said that Sterling has not made a decision on Scheer's future. The Clippers did not make the playoffs last season and are five games out of the last playoff spot this season. Sixteen of the NBA's 23 teams advance to the playoffs.
Scheer, interviewed at his Sports Arena office Friday morning, said that he did not believe his job was in jeopardy.
Sterling did not return a reporter's call, and Roeser would not comment when asked about Scheer's expenses. Clipper President Alan Rothenberg's only comment was that Scheer's job status is "the same as it's always been; he's the general manager."
Scheer's use of company money for personal purchases has been monitored by Roeser from Sterling's office in Beverly Hills since last summer.
Roeser canceled a company credit card, which was in Scheer's name, in late January. A club checking account that Scheer used last season was canceled last May, apparently when Roeser learned that Scheer had drawn cash advances without specifying business purposes.
In a memo to Sterling dated Jan. 23, Roeser outlined what he termed "flagrant abuses" by Scheer of the company credit card, the company travel agency and the company checking account.
Roeser, in the memo, said that from the inception of the credit card--presumably when Scheer became general manager in July, 1984--until Dec. 31, 1985, approximately $10,000 of the $23,000 Scheer had charged to the credit card was for what Roeser called personal expense.
Roeser's memo also said that from Jan. 1, 1985, to May 31, 1985, Scheer had advanced himself $800 from the club's checking account, without accounting for it.
Roeser sent another memo to Scheer on Feb. 27, detailing his assertions of Scheer's personal expenses and the method of repayment. Documents show that Scheer's personal charges totaled $9,874.42, but that Scheer had already repaid or had been credited for $5,004. The repayment came through club payroll deductions.
As of the Feb. 27 memo, Scheer still owed the Clippers $4,870.33, the balance of which Roeser said would be deducted from Scheer's paychecks. The final deduction of $1,870.33 from Scheer's paycheck is scheduled to be made today.
Some of Scheer's credit card charges over the last year and a half, that were deemed personal, were made at a Builders Emporium in Culver City, Cartlon Hair International in Santa Monica, Tower Records in Los Angeles and the Ahmanson Theatre.
Scheer, 49, general manager of the Denver Nuggets for 10 years, also has charged numerous airline flights to Denver. He said that the trips were business related, but the club said they were personal.
Scheer said that the team gave him clearance to commute to Los Angeles from Denver for his first six months as the Clippers' general manager. He charged the Clippers for several trips to Denver, however, after the first six months.
In his Jan. 23 memo, Roeser said that the Clippers' airline travel policy is that the account will be used exclusively for business travel. Roeser wrote: "I have identified instances during the past (and) current season of Carl charging the Clippers account for airline tickets for personal use. . . . "
Scheer said Friday: "I'm shocked. Those matters are so personal that I don't even know how to respond to them. If I explain it, it is suggesting that this is a matter of serious concern. I will not discuss a private matter that should not be made public."
It is not uncommon for NBA general managers to be given company credit cards, and it also is believed common for executives to charge the team for minor personal expenses.
"(Roeser) claims no one has credit cards in this business," Scheer said, adding that his personal finances are "fine."
Scheer said that he and Roeser had argued on several matters, among them his expenses.
"I've had battles with Andy Roeser," Scheer said. 'But it's like having battles with your wife. He has come from a different direction than me. He's a 27-year-old accountant fresh out of an accounting firm, and he has driven me crazy.
"It is more in the management of the operations than anything personal. The issue of personal expenses is minor and has been taken care of.
"(Roeser) asked me about the basketball operations, and he also gets into the players and the marketing. I don't think it's his responsibility to tell me who to hire and fire. Sterling is not a guy who deals directly. He always has someone come to me."
Roeser, who gets copies of all bills, confronted Scheer in February and has sent several memos to Scheer along with computer printouts of credit card purchases.
In one high-volume conversation with Roeser in Scheer's Sports Arena office before a Clipper game Feb. 15, Scheer yelled: "I know you're out to get me."
Scheer, who met with Sterling Friday afternoon, said that neither Sterling nor Rothenberg has told him his job is in jeopardy.
"The pressure I have is self-imposed," he said. "I've never been one to be concerned about being fired. I've worked long and hard in this business, and no one has ever questioned my integrity before."
At the recent NBA marketing meetings in Denver, Roeser reportedly met with Bob King, a former Clipper vice president who quit last May after a falling-out with Scheer. Sources in Denver said that Roeser asked King to recommend people to either work with Scheer or replace him.
King, reached at his Denver home, declined to comment.
It has been learned, however, that Sterling called King last April and told him that he was considering not re-hiring Scheer, whose contract had run out.
Sterling's proposal, which apparently never went beyond the talking stage, had former Laker star Elgin Baylor taking over as a player personnel director, King taking over the office operation and Roeser assuming the financial dealings.
Scheer was rehired, although he did not sign what is believed to be a multiyear contract worth approximately $160,000, until December.
Asked a month ago about his contract, Scheer said: "There are many outs in the contract from both sides at the end of the season." Recently, Scheer has talked about his "frustration and disillusionment" in watching the Clippers lose. Wednesday night, Scheer said that he would consider resigning if Sterling balked at re-signing guard Derek Smith, a free agent after this season.
Scheer also has sought and failed to have the club's financial office moved from Sterling's Beverly Hills office to the Sports Arena.
"I have my own feelings about the way things should be done here and my own feelings about Sterling, which I think you know," Scheer said, indicating that his relationship with the Clipper owner is not as close as it sometimes appears at games and community functions.
"At no point before this did I question my job," Scheer said. "Whether it's Sterling or Rothenberg doing it, I'll find out."