8/20/2014

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KATU Investigators

District renews coach's contract despite mistreatment allegations

District renews coach's contract despite mistreatment allegations

CAMAS, Wash. – Some parents say a Camas High School varsity basketball coach's behavior on and off the court is unacceptable.

Despite the allegations, the school district decided to renew Skylar Gillispie's contract Monday night.

The controversy has been brewing in the community for months, and it came to a head between the coach's critics and his supporters at the school district's board meeting.

His critics say Gillispie has pulled and shoved players and they have video they say that proves it. It just a few of the reasons Gillispie shouldn't be coach anymore, they say.

"(There's been) kids stripped of their self-esteem, their self-confidence," said former JV basketball coach Larry Crafton. "I've seen players in the locker room after practice in tears. I witnessed the use of the f-bomb on several occasions."

That's why a number of Camas High School basketball players and their families came to the school district's board meeting for a vote on whether Coach Gillispie would stay or go.

Seventeen families signed a petition in February, accusing Gillispie of physically and verbally abusing his players.

The district brought in a volunteer assistant coach with more than 20 years of experience to mentor Gillispie on how to treat players.

"I am not tolerant of bullying, of leveraging people, of threatening, demeaning attacks on individuals," said board member Doug Quinn who voted to keep Gillispie. "In supporting the approval of this contract, I've seen a sincere effort on the part of our head basketball coach, Mr. Gillispie, to correct the behavior."

The coach's contract squeaked by, approved by a 3-2 vote. None of the players or their parents wanted to talk following the vote.

Crafton, whose contract as JV coach was not renewed this year, said this isn't about him, it's about the kids who've been mistreated, and a coach he believes cannot change.

"There are certain people you will never be able to change the spots on that leopard," he said. "And that's what they're gonna be dealing with."

KATU News tried to reach Gillispie on Twitter and Facebook. He did not respond.

Camas basketball tryouts are in mid-November. The varsity basketball team's first game is Dec. 2 at Camas High School.

If there's a story you think our investigators should dig into, we want to hear from you. Email investigators@katu.com.

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