The treatment of the North Crawford volleyball team at the all-conference selections in October was again a topic of conversation during the public input portion of the school board meeting agenda last Thursday.
Ritchie Stevenson, a parent of two starting players on the team, began the discussion. Stevenson told the board he was interested in what was happening with a request for an investigation into what happened at a meeting of coaches that resulted in the North Crawford players being excluded from the all-conference team.
In October, it had been reported by several sources that the conference coaches had unanimously agreed that they would not vote for any Trojan players for the all-conference team. The coaches reached this decision because of what they deemed to be inappropriate behavior by players posting messages on the social media site Twitter, according to the reports.
At a North Crawford School Board meeting in October, Stevenson and others told the board that the girls on the volleyball team had been unfairly treated by the conference coaches in being excluded from any consideration for the all-conference team.
The situation was further exacerbated by the fact that the North Crawford team had beaten every other team in the conference and was the undisputed champion of the Ridge and Valley Conference. It was further complicated by the fact that the team had gone on a run in post season tournament and decisively defeated five opponents in the regionals and sectionals, winning 15 games in five matches and losing just one on their way to the state tournament.
Despite the North Crawford players’ obvious talent, the conference coaches decided a social media posting by team members was so inappropriate that they should be excluded from consideration for all-conference honors.
At the Thursday night meeting, it was school board president Mary Kuhn who answered Stevenson questions about the requested investigation of the coaches’ decision. She reminded Stevenson that he had been told at the previous meeting that when the district got requested information from the other coaches in the conference about how the decision to exclude the North Crawford players from the all-conference selection was made, the district would proceed with reviewing the situation.
Stevenson stated that the WIAA rules specifically state that players cannot be punished at a coaches’ conference meeting.
Kuhn suggested Stevenson take up the matter with Seneca District Administrator Dave Boland, who is the President of the Ridge and Valley Conference.
North Crawford District Administrator Dan Davies explained that the district had sent a letter requesting information to Boland and that he distributed it to all of the volleyball coaches from the other conference schools. The letter sought information on how the decision to keep the North Crawford players off the all-conference team was reached.
Kuhn told Stevenson that to date the district had not received any information from the other conference coaches.
“So until we receive that we’re not going to do anything?” Stevenson asked. “What if we never receive a response.”
Kuhn said the district would “cross that bridge” when it go to it.
Tom Swiggum, another parent of two of the volleyball players, pressed the point. He wanted to know when the district would act.
Kuhn explained that the district expected to get some response in January when district administrators from the conference are scheduled to meet.
In answer to more questions from Swiggum about the situation, Kuhn said she had spoken with the school district’s attorney about the matter and was told it was important to keep a lot of things private. The board president explained she was told that to ask what was said about a particular student would violate that student’s right to privacy.
“I’m not trying to be evasive,” Kuhn said in response to the questions from Stevenson and Swiggum. “I’m just doing what the attorney asked me to do. That is to abide by the privacy of the students.”
At one point, Davies told Stevenson that he needed to pursue the conversation about the coaches meeting with the Ridge and Valley Conference President Dave Boland.
Stevenson thought a different approach was in order. He said that North Crawford’s athletic director should ask the conference commissioner to rule on the matter in light of the fact that there was no athletic code violation. Stevenson noted in this case Dave Bergum is serving as the North Crawford Athletic Director and the Ridge and Valley Conference Commissioner, but the message should still be acted upon.
The discussion ended with Kuhn saying the district was waiting for answers to come in response to the letters distributed to the conference volleyball coaches seeking information on the matter.