An investigation into the Plano East (Texas) Senior High School baseball team reportedly found the coaching staff used racist remarks and disparaged injured student-athletes. It is also alleged the players held an annual "fight club" in the batting cages.
Eva-Marie Ayala of the Dallas Morning News reported former head coach Travis Collins and assistant coach Reagan Allen have been on paid administrative leave since August as the school investigated concerns raised by parents' complaints.
The coaches' attorney, Giana Ortiz, told the Dallas Morning News they "vehemently deny" the findings of the inquiry.
One student said the coaches encouraged the derogatory comments, which were usually directed toward players not healthy enough to take the field, according to the report.
"It was as if it was just a game to the coaches to see who could dish out the funniest nickname or phrase to ridicule the hurt player," the student said.
The "fight club" was run by senior members of the team each year when the coaches would leave for a conference. Collins and Allen denied knowledge of any such activity, but the investigation showed the event was promoted on social media and left players with "bruised knuckles and black eyes."
"During the fights, usually organized by the seniors each year, all players are [pitted] against one another...with the little protection given by cheap boxing gloves," one student said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "There was no backing out of the fight for fear of shame and humiliation by the others."
The district stated the coaches in question are "no longer associated" with the baseball team, according to Ayala's report. Joe Cravens has taken over on an interim basis.
Not all parents are in agreement with the decision, however. Dave Anderson told the outlet the accusers made a lot of allegations before the probe was launched.
"It's sad that this investigation was cleverly disguised as being about player safety concerns from those not happy with their position in the ... baseball program," Anderson said. "I'm extremely disappointed in the lack of support from the district for these two longtime coaches and the one-sidedness of this investigation."
Ortiz told the Dallas Morning News the coaches "dedicated their lives to the game they coach and to developing players through positive example and influence."
It's not clear whether they plan to challenge the school's decision to remove them from the coaching staff.