Plymouth Raiders coach leaves after BBC investigation

Jonathan White
Image caption Plymouth Raiders said Johnny White had coached at the "highest level" in his native Australia but Basketball Australia said he was not a registered coach

A man was appointed the head coach of a major British basketball team without his professional credentials being checked, it has emerged.

Australian Johnny White was appointed by Plymouth Raiders following the recommendation of one of their players.

The club also received an unsolicited letter of support from a former club. He has since left Raiders.

Raiders owner Bob Widdecombe, a former chairman at Crimestoppers, admitted they did not make any further checks.

'Not a registered coach'

Mr White was appointed in July last year with the club stating on its website he had a lot of experience coaching "at a high level in Australia".

The website statement mentioned he had spent five seasons as an assistant coach in the Australian top division with the Melbourne Tigers.

However, after being approached by the BBC, Raiders admitted this was not the case and removed the statement from their website but insisted he had been a coach at the Melbourne Tigers in 2016.

But Basketball Australia told the BBC he was not a registered coach during that year and Nigel Purchase, Melbourne Tigers' general manager, said Mr White fulfilled "advisory and scouting roles" at the club but would not say whether he was a paid employee.

Mr White left Plymouth Raiders shortly after the BBC contacted the club.

Image copyright Plymouth Raiders
Image caption A statement in the Plymouth Raiders website citing Mr White's experience at Melbourne Tigers was taken down after questions were asked by the BBC

To get a UK visa Mr White must have been either a head coach or assistant coach in the past two seasons in a senior professional league.

The Home Office would not say if it would investigate, stating they do not comment on individual cases.

A Plymouth Raiders statement said: "Our background checks on Mr White included a letter from the Chief Executive of the Melbourne Tigers, clearly stating that he was employed in an assistant coach role with the club last summer."

The club said it had "stuck rigidly" to the criteria laid down by Basketball England in order to obtain a Governing Body Endorsement, which is required to get a visa.

Johnny White's history

  • November 2015: Johnny White joins Raiders as unpaid volunteer "team follower".
  • July 2016: White made head coach.
  • March 2017: Raiders reach BBL trophy final, heavily beaten.
  • May 2017: BBC approach Raiders with questions about White's CV.
  • May 2017 White leaves Raiders.

Mark Quinn, spokesman for Basketball Australia, said the organisation did "not endorse or validate any players' or coaches' visas".

He added: "Johnny White was not a registered coach with Melbourne Tigers."

Mr White was contacted by the BBC but declined to comment.

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