Columbia Central basketball coach approved by district after investigation

BROOKLYN, MI – Columbia School District officials have completed their investigation of Columbia Central High School boys basketball coach Troy Stewart and found that the coach did not physically or mentally abuse any of his players.

Superintendent Pamela Campbell announced the results of the review of Stewart’s behavior during the district’s school board meeting Monday, April 11th. Several parents had raised concerns about Stewart’s behavior and leadership, which resulted in the investigation.

The review focused on two issues – did Stewart abuse players physically and / or mentally, and if so, what are the consequences, Campbell said.

After interviews were conducted with all the players on the university basketball team by the school’s athletic director, assistant principal, and Campbell, the superintendent said there were no conclusions that Stewart abused any of his players either physically or mentally.

During the investigation, Campbell said the district found areas where Stewart could improve, including his communications.

“He wants to work on an individual development plan,” Campbell said. “(Stewart and the new athletic director Ryan Hackworth will) work on it together, just really focus on communicating with players and with parents.”

RELATED: Columbia schools are investigating the basketball coach following complaints from several parents

Board President Robert Wahr said it was important for the district to conduct the investigation before drawing conclusions about Stewart’s behavior as a coach, after allegations have been made during recent school board meetings.

“We took the complaint seriously and we let our administration follow the fair process,” Wahr said. “We are convinced of the finding and that it was a fair process.”

The investigation was launched after the board heard concerns from “several” parents of basketball players in recent months, especially after an incident on the court during a match against Concord in December 2021 involving Stewart and his son, Ethan, who was a member of the club . team this season.

After receiving a technical foul in the game, Ethan Stewart tried to sit on the bench before his father asked him to go to the locker room, remembers Columbia Central senior.

Ethan Stewart said he was “pretty mad” at the time and said to Stewart “no” when asked to go to the locker room, noting that he did not feel he was being pushed excessively by his father, before he was led to the locker room by an assistant coach. He felt that there was “hardly any” pressure exerted by Stewart.

People who were present during the incident have conflicting views on how it happened, with some calling it a “push” and others saying there was “nothing there” as to the severity of the contact between Stewart and his son.

Another incident involving Stewart and his son during a training session last season was also repeated by parents who raised issues with Stewart. After a game was over during a practice session, Ethan Stewart said he threw the ball to his father, turned away and was hit with the ball in the back by Stewart. Ethan says he did not see his father throw the ball and referred to the incident as “small”.

Stewart said he did not hit his son with the ball on purpose and that the ball was meant to go to another player, but Ethan got in the way.

Stewart, who previously denied ever being physically or mentally violent towards players, said he looks forward to the chance to improve in all areas of his coaching, including games, training and communication.

“I have not talked to the new AD about these plans, but I know he is good at what he does and he will help me improve our program in all areas in terms of coaching, overall culture and behavior here at Columbia Central, “Stewart said.

“My goal as a coach, husband, son, parent or friend is to improve myself, and that’s what I intend to do. I have, along with other amazing people in this community, worked hard to make this a program that has top to bottom connection from kindergarten to 12th grade. We are still working on it, and we will continue to improve it. ”

Regarding the investigation, Stewart said he believed “the truth would come out” and believes it did, even though he believes there were “no winners” in the situation.

“My goal going forward is to repair and repair everything I can, and move forward to be the best we can be and the best our program can be here at Columbia Central,” he said.

Parent Jason Sanders, whose son played for Stewart this season, said he was pleased the district allowed fair trial by conducting the investigation before making a final decision on Stewart’s status as a coach.

“It was difficult for our family to hear (the accusations) and not to give Troy the opportunity that you did,” Sanders said in a public comment Monday. “It was a witch hunt. It was about playing time. It was not about anything else. “

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