Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bullying or Aggressive Coaching? Hearing May Decide....

In Lebanon, there are complaints being filed against a former Coach of the Year. It has to do with what complainants are calling abusive behavior and bullying. Here is the story from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Tim Mersch, former Greater Western Ohio Conference Coach of the Year, is the target of a series of accusations.

Five girls tearfully complained last week during a meeting of the Lebanon Board of Education that Mersch is verbally and emotionally abusive and uses intimidation to pit players against one another, even allowing bullying among teammates.

They alleged incidents of name-calling, confrontational tactics, belittling some girls' physiques and fostering a team environment where some girls bully others.

So, has the school done anything about this, before the court hearings are due to take place?

Superintendent Mark North said he became aware of the complaints during the season and that the district's two investigations - one making use of the district's attorney - found the complaints lacked merit. Moreover, North says he intends to rehire Mersch - a retired teacher and veteran girls volleyball coach - for next fall's season.

Shortly after the girls complained publicly Monday night, the mother of one player was granted a Dec. 3 hearing before a magistrate in Warren County Common Pleas Court as she seeks a stalking protection order against the coach.

Maureen Painter alleged that during a September evening visit by Mersch at her home he verbally confronted both her and her daughter.

Painter also made allegations that during school Monday, Mersch - who is only contracted part time to coach - came to Lebanon High School and sought out her daughter who was working at the school office and glared at her more than a minute in response to complaints about him.

Mersch declined comment about the accusations. He has until Nov. 30 to file objections to the hearing.

Painter also filed a complaint Thursday with Lebanon police, but the officer who took the complaint was unavailable Friday to comment on whether police are investigating.

"He is verbally and emotionally abusive," Painter said. "He plays mind games and manipulates these girls. He is a nasty, vindictive man. This has been going on for years and I don't want these girls or any future girls to suffer from this."

Another parent, Chris Young, echoed Painter's claims, accusing Mersch of being psychologically and emotionally abusive to these kids.

So, the school district investigated and found so much evidence that they decided to rehire the guy. So, the school district A)is hiding something to protect a coach, B)didn't do due dilligence, or C)did an investigation and the charges are groundless. I don't know what is the truth here.

Is this aggressive coaching ala Bob Huggins or Bobby Knight, or is this abuse? Much of what is today called abusive was acceptable just a decade ago. What constitutes mind games and what constitutes honest critique? It seems now that the magistrate in Warren County will have to decide.