CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Clay County school administrators are standing behind a high school basketball coach, even though one student's parents say their son was hospitalized with multiple injuries because the coach failed to report hazing.
George and Julia Wilkinson filed a citizens appeal form with Clay County High School last week, demanding that coach Scott Gibson be fired for committing "willful neglect of duty."
The Wilkinsons' son, a freshman on the basketball team, was in an altercation with a fellow player that led to his hospitalization with staples in his head, a concussion, a bruised tailbone and facial lacerations.
The parents say that the incident could have been prevented if Gibson had reported prior hazing to administrators or parents.
On Feb. 5, Gibson heard noises coming from the coach's room, which is attached to the boys' locker room. He walked into the room where he saw players hazing the boy with the lights out. Gibson turned the lights on and left the room, according to the complaint.
He had a discussion with the team following the incident. The Wilkinsons said Gibson talked to the boys about similar occurrences in other areas that have "led to lawsuits and sodomy of children in other counties," according to the complaint.
Parents, the principal and other administrators were not made aware of the incident until days later.
The coach, according to the complaint, took no action to alert administrators or punish the involved students.
Word of the hazing got out during a basketball game later that week, and when the story started spreading that the boy had told his parents, a fellow player was angered and attacked him in the locker room following the game, which led to his hospitalization, according to Clay County Superintendent Kenneth Tanner.
"This wasn't the coach's fault. When he suspected some horseplay was going on, he inquired about it and spoke with the kids as a group and individually. He looked into the details and dealt with it and felt there was nothing to report," he said. "He made admirable efforts to find out if anything was going on, and he was assured there was nothing. We have spent a great amount of time on this, and we're trying to put it past us now."