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IHSAA suspends athletic director after basketball coach tosses chair at players, referee

GARY, Ind. (WISH) — On Tuesday IHSAA placed the Lighthouse College Prep Academy boys basketball team on probation for the rest of the 2020-21 season and suspended their athletic director after a basketball coach was seen in video throwing a chair during a game.

“There is simply no place in education-based athletics for this type of poor behavior. This adult behavior will not be tolerated. I commend the Lighthouse CPA administration on their swift action in dealing with the situation and expect a positive change in the expectations and standards moving forward,” IHSAA Commissioner Paul Neidig said in a statement on Tuesday.

Coach Nick Moore in a Tuesday morning Facebook post said he had been relieved of his duties by Gary Lighthouse College Prep Academy.

News 8’s Dan Klein talked to a referee about what happened on the court and how common those scenes have become.

Moore, the head coach of Gary Lighthouse College Prep Academy, was facing his alma mater on Friday night, Bowman Academy, the school where he won a state championship a decade ago. It was a rematch of a game earlier in the year as part of the first Steel City Showcase.

While the video may be shocking to some, longtime referees said it’s no surprise.

With a few minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Lighthouse was working on a comeback when a player traveled.

That’s when Lighthouse Head Coach Nick Moore lost it.

Video shows him grabbing a chair and about to throw it onto the court when an assistant holds him back. Then he runs to the other side of the bench, grabs another chair and tosses it in the direction of the players and the referee.

Moments later, he tries to throw a second chair before settling for tossing a ball onto the court.

“I can’t honestly say I was surprised,” said Bob Carney, a referee with 40 years experience.

He wasn’t at the game but he is the former president of the Crossroads Officials Association, one of 24 regional ref groups statewide.

“It really is a sad thing but it occurs more frequently than we can imagine,” Carney said.

Carney said in some ways, it’s also understandable in the moment. The stakes are high, sports scholarships and jobs on the line and, in this case, Moore coming back to his alma mater.

He believes this type of incident does happen now more than ever.

“I think it’s more widespread only because it becomes accepted behavior after awhile. Unfortunately, that’s on the official as well,” Carney said.

He adds that means setting the stage with the pregame discussion, possibly calling a few fouls early on just to keep things under control.

Carney declined to say what he thought should be done to either the school or the coach but had faith the IHSAA would do the right thing. He hopes it’s a learning experience for everyone, especially young athletes.

“The simple fact is, when everything is all said and done, it’s just a game,” Carney said. “They see it all. The good, the bad, the ugly, etc. You can do anything at all after the fact to make it a teaching moment that everyone learns and gets better as a result of whatever did transpire.”

Full statement from IHSAA:

“Following a series of unsportsmanlike incidents by an administrator and coaches of the Lighthouse College Prep Academy (CPA) boys basketball team, IHSAA Commissioner Paul Neidig has issued penalties and placed the boys basketball program on probation for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. During last Friday’s game (Jan. 29) played at Bowman Academy in Gary, Lighthouse CPA athletic director Lawrence Sandlin was ejected from the contest near the end of the third quarter for arguing with contest officials. After a traveling violation was called with 6:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, head coach Nick Moore threw a chair onto the floor, attempted to throw a second chair a few seconds later, and then tossed another basketball onto the playing court. Assistant coach KeVan Ford later heaved a chair across the court shortly after the final buzzer had sounded. “There is simply no place in education-based athletics for this type of poor behavior. This adult behavior will not be tolerated. I commend the Lighthouse CPA administration on their swift action in dealing with the situation and expect a positive change in the expectations and standards moving forward,” said Commissioner Neidig. Per IHSAA By-Laws, the athletic director is suspended for the team’s next varsity contest and all other interschool contests at any level in the interim. Prior to the penalties being issued regarding the coaches, the Lighthouse CPA administration indicated to the commissioner that both coaches were disciplined according to school policy and procedure. Probation – which will not affect the remainder of the school’s regular season or its participation in the state tournament because of these incidents – is official notice serious violations have occurred, are a matter of record and future, similar incidents will not be tolerated. The IHSAA also applauds the student athletes involved in the game for not adversely reacting to the egregious display of poor sportsmanship and behavior by adults. Their response to this unacceptable adult behavior falls in line with our expectations of student athletes. The IHSAA emphatically promotes respect for the rules, sportsmanlike conduct, and fair play among its 410 member schools and their student-athletes. Good sportsmanship is one of the primary tenets of education-based athletics and has come into even greater focus in recent years with the creation of the IHSAA Sportsmanship Program, the Sportsmanship Task Force, and multiple media camp.”

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