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Questions surround leave of absence for coach



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Barns supporters wore unified t-shirts during the Goodrich School Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
February 29, 2012 - Goodrich- Plenty of questions—few answers.

On Monday night the regular school board of trustees meeting was moved to the middle school cafeteria to accommodate about 100 parents, teachers and students following a row allegedly between the school administration, boy's basketball coach Gary Barns, players and parents.

The issue was not on the school board agenda.

District Superintendent John Fazer said Barns took a personal leave of absence on Feb. 15 to be with his ill son; however, several parents close to both the school and basketball team say there are other reasons for his departure from the bench late in the season.

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James LeGrow, a team scout and 1979 GHS graduate, is one of the parents who spoke at Monday's board meeting.

"There are four players who quit the team and then were reinstated through the superintendent's office," he said. "It's appalling—there's a policy in place here. I'm ashamed of what is going on in this community—they quit (the team), the superintendent says, 'Go back on the team.'"

LeGrow believes the issues could revolve around the Schools of Choice players that are on the team.

"It's not a matter of playing time, because the students who quit started—it could be the jealousy toward the School of Choice players."

Frank Green, Jr., a Flint resident and father of a 14-year old Schools of Choice freshman at the high school, expressed his concerns.

"Coach Barns has stepped down, resigned or whatever—we want our coach back on the bench. It's not about playing time. My son is one of the top players in the nation—it was his choice to come to Goodrich. If Coach Barns is not here I'm not coming back. I have to support that—what are the real circumstances?"

Barns did not return phone calls to The Citizen. Wayne Wilson is serving as interim basketball coach.

Barns started in Goodrich in 1980 as an assistant to JV Boys Basketball Coach John Joslin.

A 1968 Ortonville graduate, Barns attended Olivet College and Oakland Community College. After college he worked for the State of Michigan as a park ranger and later for the Department of Corrections. He retired from the state in 2005 after 21 years.

Barns also coached the Goodrich JV Girls Basketball team from 1999-2006, taking the team to a remarkable 149-5 record.

When the girls' basketball season changed to the winter season, Barns stayed coaching the boys' team. The Martians finished the 1996-97 season without a loss, but were defeated by Hamady High School in regional action, ending the season 21-1.

The team was perfect through the 1998-99 regular season; however, they lost to Brown City in the regional finals. The season ended 24-1. The 1995-96 season was the first for Goodrich to make regionals, where they lost to Elkton-Pigeon Bay Port.

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