St. Marys coach under fire


ST. MARYS — A successful football coach whose methods have been frequently questioned once again has found himself in the center of controversy in St. Marys. A group of parents in St. Marys submitted a formal complaint Dec. 22 to Superintendent Shawn Brown concerning the treatment of players by head football coach Doug Frye. Claims of mistreatment in the complaint included that Frye and staff members “have harassed, intimidated, and hazed athletes, and disregarded the health, safety and well-being of these athletes.” The group of parents are being represented by Columbus attorney Mark Weiker. After receiving the the complaint, Brown met with the group Dec. 22 to discuss the allegations. Brown said the school then hired an independent investigator, Ted Knapke, to investigate the claims. Knapke’s investigation, released Thursday, summarized that “the complaints included in the three letters depict a very different program and culture than the patterns that emerge from the answers and the comments given by coaches and the other eight players in response to issues centered in the allegations.” The report went on, “The investigation clearly did not bear out the allegations. While coaches and players did not paint a picture of a perfect program or of coaches who don’t get upset at times, the consistent message was that coaches are attempting to do a very good job.” Despite the report, the group of parents do not plan on backing down. Weiker commented on Knapke’s report. “Apparently, the school and the investigator felt that it was not important to consider the 10-plus very similar complaints made against Doug Frye over the past 21 years,” Weiker said. “Students, parents and assistant coaches alike have made statements, each one alleging the same stuff. This coach was even disciplined by [the Ohio Department of Education] in 2013 for this behavior. These are all easily-accessible public records. It is a real stretch for the school to call this an investigation.” Craig Gottschalk, a Lima attorney who said he represented Frye, other members of his coaching staff, and parents, had originally agreed to an interview concerning the implications in the report. However, Frye and other staff members decided not to comment after the report was issued because of its positive portrayal. Brown said the school did not have any other comment other than offering the completed third-party report by Knapke. Weiker said the group will continue to pursue the matter. “It is time for some leaders to step up in support of these student-athletes,” Weiker said. “We are hopeful that this will happen. If not, we’ll have to consider every available option to make sure that people are held accountable for allowing this to go on for so long.” Weiker then presented several allegations that have came up in the past involving Frye dating back to 1995. •1995: Bucyrus Superintendent John Roller issued a report that said “some people alleging that you had a confrontation with one of your athletes which resulted in you using unacceptable obscene language, as well as, becoming physical with the athlete. •2001: Board notes claimed several incidents in interviews with Jim Hollman, Tom Yingling and Ed Cybak. Hollman is now athletic director at the school and Cybak left after one year and is now coaching at Green. According to the notes, Hollman said the use of profanity was pervasive. Boys with injuries were chastised and berated. Yingling said that children were coerced to play hurt and that injuries were not properly treated. Cybak also said that players were not properly treated for injuries, dragging themselves around the field not able to pick up an injured leg. Most chilling in the notes is a claim that a player suffered a deep thigh bruise. The notes say Frye felt the problem was mostly in his head and told the coaches he was going to “give him some pills he and his wife had had in college and tell Nathan that they were vitamins he needed.” According to the notes, Hollman thought the pills were anti-inflammatories. Former St. Marys school board member Rees McKee confirmed the notes were his that he had taken from interviews. A copy of the notes and a prepared summation of the interviews were provided. •2012: An audio tape recorded following a game during Frye’s brief tenure as the Wapakoneta head coach led to a formal reprimand of the coach by the school district and several reports being filed by players or parents concerning Frye’s tactics with the Wapakoneta Police Department. The claims included a description of constant foul language and name-calling. Players said Frye constantly tore them down and one said Frye regularly only complimented four or five players on the team. The actions resulted in an investigation from the Ohio Department of Education, which resulted in Frye having to sign a consent agreement for conduct unbecoming the teaching profession, using inappropriate or degrading comments to students. A copy of the audio is available on LimaOhio.com. •2014: A former player said he re-injured a shoulder injury during June. The player said the injury resulted from full-contact practice without pads on. The father of the player said his son had only been cleared for conditioning when the incident occurred. •2015: In three separate reports issued by players from the team, statements included name-calling, claims of encouraging fights between players, hitting without pads on a regular basis, encouraging players to not see a doctor with injuries, and that concussions are a myth, and you get one you are weak. The reports by the three students indicated that students are encouraged to play injured. They defined name-calling and bullying as common in practice. A letter written on Sept. 5, 2000, from Dr. James Kemmler addressed to Frye, also forwarded to former athletic director Steve Moor and Dr. Bob Keighly, addressed problems with children placed on the field when not cleared medically. Kemmler said numerous parents expressed concern and disgust with Frye’s treatment of players. Knapke’s report contradicted those claims. Dr. Matt Reisen and Angie Brown, medical personnel who serve with the football team, said proper injury protocols were in place. Brown said she “has had more communication with these coaches in the past two years than previously. “There are never any qualms about holding a player out due to injury.” Gottschalk would neither confirm nor deny any legal proceedings would take place in the future.
By Lance Mihm lmihm@civitasmedia.com
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm. [audio mp3="https://d31029zd06w0t6.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2016/01/StMarysCoach-1.mp3" preload="auto"][/audio]

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