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GHS boys hoops issues settled

November 14, 2012 - Goodrich-The winds of speculation swirling around the embattled boys varsity basketball team may soon be calmed.

In a written statement last week District Superintendent Scott Bogner announced that boys varsity basketball Head Coach Gary Barns and Coach Wayne Wilson are being placed on administrative leave for the 2012-2013 season and the district has hired interim coaches.

Bogner also confirmed that the varsity basketball program violated Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) rules.

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 said there were other reasons for his departure from the bench late in the 2012 basketball season. 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 the 2012-13 basketball season starts, the issues surrounding Barns were stilll unsettled.

"I want to note that there have been multiple perspectives on the range of issues that have been reviewed," wrote Bogner. "However, all sides agree that the outcome of this process needs to ensure that the basketball program at Goodrich Area Schools reflects both excellence and accountability."

"It is important to note that courage has been demonstrated on all sides. It takes courage for parents and students to speak up when they have concerns, especially when targeted and attacked for doing so," added Bogner. "No one deserves to be ostracized for sincerely raising legitimate questions. This type of behavior does not reflect the values of our community nor does it reflect positively on the Goodrich Area Schools. I applaud the parents and students for seeking to do the right thing."

"At the same time, it takes courage for Coach Barns, as "head coach," to own the program concerns. I respect the fact that Coach Barns acknowledged that he sometimes used inappropriate language when speaking to players. I respect the fact that he has expressed regret for what occurred. I also want to note that, while Coach Barns was frequently unavailable last season due to personal circumstances, he takes responsibility as the "head coach" for the activities of his staff. I applaud the coach for also seeking to do the right thing. Because of this, Coach Barns is expected to return as coach for the 2013-2014 season."

"As superintendent, my priorities are clear: We must provide a quality basketball experience for our student athletes and we must ensure both excellence and accountability within the basketball program," said Bogner. "To achieve these outcomes, the district sought impartial legal counsel to fairly and objectively review the program. In that process, we worked closely with a range of parents, coaches and their respective legal representatives. We also sought to communicate with the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) when appropriate."

In the same letter Bogner said the MHSAA advised the district that there were rule violations within the basketball program regarding: a) how coaches functioned with respect to open gyms; and b) how non-resident students came to participate in open gyms.

"While their decision is not yet final, it is anticipated that the Goodrich Area Schools Basketball program will be placed on probation for a year," he added.

Thomas Rashid, associate director of the MHSAA, said there will be many in the Goodrich District that will be glad for closure.

"The school has been very forthcoming and complete in the investigation," said Rashid. "Probation recognizes an infraction has occured. It (probation) creates an atmosphere of caution for the future, too. The penalties can range from with or without competion to removal from the MHSAA tournaments. It can also apply to a complete athletic program or just an individual. Probation is often used as a status when there's an issue or infraction. It's one of the tools at the ready. And sometimes probation can be without action."

Changes will come to the Goodrich Varsity Basketball program.

"Our focus in the coming months will be on creating a culture of excellence and accountability within our district for the students as well as the staff. Therefore, I am immediately implementing the following policies and procedures applicable to all Goodrich coaches and athletic programs."

A list of those polices are available at thecitizenonline.com.

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