October 24, 2012 - Goodrich-An ongoing investigation regarding the boys basketball team has expanded and may soon reach a conclusion.
In a written statement at the Monday night school board of trustees meeting, District Superintendent Scott Bogner squelched some rumors and forecasted prompt closure to allegations against long-time high school coach Dave Barns.
On Feb. 15, Barns took a personal leave of absence 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 2012 basketball season. Since that time Barns, a 21-year veteran coach who earned his 300th career victory in 2011, has battled allegations during his tenure, including bullying players.
In June, Coach Barns announced he would be returning for his 22nd year of coaching. However, as Nov. 12, the first day of practice for the 2012-13 basketball season draws near, the issues surrounding Barns still loom.
On Monday night supporters of Barns attended the school board meeting and expressed the need to expedite the investigation.
"We've wasted time," said Carl Snyder, an area resident wearing a t-shirt supporting Barns. "For the kids that are playing basketball (this season) we need to get this done. The community does not know what's going on. I'm worried about these kids—we care about everyone. Please resolve this. I'd like to see the attorney bill the district is going to be paying."
Following the public comments Bogner responded.
"This investigation is not about any single individual—be it coach, student, or family," he said. "It is focused on a fair and objective review of the program. This includes looking at how the coaches have functioned, how practices and open gyms have been run, and how the student athletes and potential student athletes have been engaged."
"My goal as superintendent is to ensure that both excellence and accountability are occurring within the basketball program," he said.
The first varsity basketball game is set for Dec. 7 versus Durand High School at Goodrich.
"Having said that, we are working closely with the Michigan High School Athletic Association on factual issues that have been preliminarily identified as violating the association's standards. We expect to receive a full response next week that outlines steps that we should take if they find that violations have occurred."
Bogner did not comment on the extent or the type of violations that are under investigation by the MHSAA.
"In addition, we hoped to be close to the end of our internal investigation. Late last week we received new statements of concern about alleged behaviors with past basketball players. As a result, we will do two things: First, we are contacting the coach (Barns) and his attorney to apprise them of these latest allegations. Second, we are reviewing the recent allegations to determine if they are in fact 'new' or if there is new evidence to support prior allegations. This is clearly not a case involving any criminal behavior whatsoever."
"As a district, we are committed to following our policies and acting with excellence in all that we do. Again, this is not just about the coaching staff; it is about creating a culture of excellence and accountability for the students as well as the staff."
"We want to do this right," he added. "It has to be taken care of. It's about the basketball program, the individual allegations are part of it."
Thomas M. Rashid, MHSAA associate director, confirmed the investigation was ong=oing and the district had been very forthcoming with information regarding the alleged violations.
"Our main priority is to provide a great basketball experience for our athletes," Bogner said.