Dimond High football set to return – without its head coach
An Anchorage School District investigation into allegations of sexual abuse during a Dimond High School football trip has revealed that "inappropriate conduct occurred." The district announced Friday that it will cost the head coach and two assistants their jobs.
ASD also said Dimond's team will return to the football field next week, after it suspended the program for two weeks.
First-year head coach Bernardo Otero and two assistants have been fired. The assistants’ names are not being released.
Derek Brewer, a former Dimond head coach from 2004 to 2007, will take the reins as the interim head coach. According to the MaxPreps website, he produced a 14-19 record his four seasons with the Lynx.
The Anchorage Police Department is also continuing its own investigation.
After nearly two weeks of tumult, Friday was the first official practice following allegations of sexual assault of underclassmen by upperclassmen.
The practice was more a conditioning workout with no equipment or contact, resembling a walk through on the day before a game.
But it will help satisfy Alaska School Activities Association regulations requiring five practices before next week’s game.
Initial findings in an ASD fact sheet labeled the incident “misconduct” due to the sensitivity in nature and given that minors are involved.
Also on Friday, East High School graduate Louis Wilson was set to address the players. Wilson, who played basketball at East High School, now serves as an associate head coach at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix under former NBA star Dan Majerle.
“He has the competencies and capabilities to speak to teams especially in these high stakes to build capacity in students in regard to high character,” said ASD's superintendent, Dr. Deena Bishop.
The Lynx have forfeited a quarter of the season, missing games against Colony and Palmer. The “C” team plays on Wednesday. The varsity and junior varsity squads return to the field Saturday, Sept. 8 at East.
A significant worry among parents was whether those responsible for the abuse have been disciplined. Bishop would not confirm what that discipline was but the known students have been disciplined per ASD policy.
While sympathetic to those victimized, many parents also voiced concerns that the masses were being unfairly punished for the misdeeds of a few.
However, Bishop would not permit any football activities to continue, citing the need to see ASD’s investigation play out.
“At this point (with) what we know, I’m comfortable with the safety of kids,” she said, noting that the investigation “remains open.”
Players did get together on their own for unofficial workouts, but those didn’t have the same intensity or guidance and didn’t qualify as legitimate practices necessitating the need for more structured workouts before the Lynx retake the field.
According to ASD, Dimond High School administrators were not notified of the incident until Monday, Aug. 20, two days after it occurred at Lathrop High School following Dimond’s road game in Fairbanks. As a result, a new traveling policy is also in the works.
Cases of hazing, and worse, among teams are nothing new, but they now receive more attention. A quick check of any search engine will reveal a laundry list of incidents, many at the high school level.
So Bishop looked for outside help.
She hired consultants from Texas who will hold a two-day program called Coaching Greatness. Dimond coaches as well as opposing coaches within the district will participate.
It will led by Brad McCoy, a former athletic director and educator. His son Colt is currently a quarterback with the Washington Redskins.
“They have experience in other high schools in working with school districts and teams that instances have occurred,” she said.
Bishop, a parent herself whose kids played scholastic sports, admitted it’s not always easy to separate from the situation.
“If you’re asking me as mom, as a varsity sports player prior in my life, with kids in sports, kids in collegiate sports, it’s significant.”
Asked if she’d handle anything differently the answer was clear.
“I don’t apologize for the patience I’ve asked people to have,“ she said.
But as the district attempts to move forward now comes the next hurdle which could prove expensive — lawsuits.
“We’re always understanding that, in incidents such as this and incidents of student safety, there may be litigation,” she said.
There were many outspoken critics in the community who felt the program should be shut down for the season. Bishop defended the decision to get the Lynx back on the field.
“We know this will be difficult as we move forward but we believe it’s the right thing for kids the right thing to move the school forward, move us forward as a district,” she said.
They believe that healing includes the resumption of a season which looked to be finished just days ago.
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