Investigation of SHS Basketball Program Launched after Complaints from Parents
Officials promise to probe allegations of name-calling, verbal abuse by Strongsville HIgh School coaches
A small group of parents told Strongsville school officials Thursday night that "negative environment" and bully tactics by coaches are ruining the district's basketball program and causing kids to leave the team.
Superintendent John Krupinski promised to look into the complaints.
"There will be a comprehensive investigation," he said.
Strongsville High School's long-time head basketball coach Joe Lynch said he did not want to comment until after he meets with school officials on Monday.
Parent John Psellas told the board his son, a senior, is leaving the SHS basketball team this year because he is tired of the negativity.
"Our students should be playing the game they love and not leaving it because of a negative climate," Psellas said.
Paul Lekan echoed his sentiments, saying the concerns have nothing to do with win-loss records or playing time, but are raised because boys are "choosing not to participate."
"The program needs to be looked at," Lekan said.
And George Metrakos said his son was physically manhandled -- the coach grabbed him by the shirt and yelled at him in front of fans during a game -- and verbally abused.
"How can this program verbally and mentally abuse these kids?" he said.
The parents say Lynch and his assistant coaches call the kids offensive names, criticize their playing, fail to provide enough conditioning and rarely offer any praise.
"If my son had called a teacher what he was called, he would have been suspended," Psellas said.
Lekan said he is fine with passionate coaching, but not with "post-play put-downs."
Psellas said he is aware of at least six juniors and seniors who have played together for years, but will not join the SHS team this winter.
"They're refusing to play under the current coaches," said Psellas, who said he has already met with Lynch and Athletic Director Paul Moses. "They (coaches) have to be tough on the kids, but they also need to build them up."
Moses called the situation "unfortunate" and said he planned to meet with the basketball coaches about the concerns.
"We hope our programs promote a positive atmosphere," Moses said. "It's high school sports -- it's fun."
Lynch, the former athletic director at SHS, has coached boys basketball for the last 37 years. In December 2009, he was recognized for his 500th career win.
He was not at Thursday's School Board meeting. Contacted by phone Friday, Lynch said he wants to respond to the allegations, but said he would hold off until after meeting with Strongsville school officials on Monday.
At the board meeting Thursday, School Board President David Frazee promised to delve into the matter.
"You have my word we will definitely look into these issues," he told the parents.
Krupinski said "safety and security" of students is of utmost importance.
"We're taking his matter very seriously," he said.