Schools still investigating mystery of Masters badges

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Richmond County school system officials said Wednesday they are continuing an investigation into how Masters Tournament badges donated to students ended up in the hands of ticket scalpers.

School spokesman Louis Svehla said top district administrators are responsible for the investigation but have not announced any findings.

"We still have to get all the parties together and get all that (information), and that's what they're trying to do," Svehla said. "We don't have anything yet."

Svehla said he did not know whether Augusta National Golf Club donates badges to schools as a yearly program or whether it is an occasional gesture. Columbia County school Superintendent Charles Nagle said his district does not receive Masters badges.

Svehla added that he had passed a reporter's questions concerning the badges along to Acting Superintendent James Whitson but did not receive answers. Whitson is running the school system while Superintendent Frank Roberson is out on medical leave.

Steve Ethun, spokesman for Augusta National, said Wednesday he would check into the school badge situation.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said his agency is not involved.

"We have not been requested to open a case on it," he said.

School board attorney Pete Fletcher said in August that Augusta National provides board members with a few tickets to Masters practice rounds.

Although the superintendent's contract is prohibited by law from including unusual perks such as Masters badges, Roberson's predecessor, Dana Bedden, told The Augusta Chronicle before he moved to Texas last year that his move was costing him a Masters ticket, which he said he received as part of his job.

Neither Bedden's nor Roberson's contract contains badges as a perk.

Staff Writer Jason Wermers contributed to this article.

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