The daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, who has served as a volunteer high school track and field coach in Oregon, was fired on Monday after an investigation proved that she escorted a 17-year-old member of her boys track squad to the school's prom.
As reported by the Associated Press, 41-year-old Melissa Bowerman, the daughter-in-law of waffle-sole inventor Bill Bowerman, escorted an unnamed 17-year-old on the Condon (Ore.) High track team to the school's prom after the runner told her he lacked a date for the prom. Bowerman, who is married to 73-year-old co-coach Jon Bowerman and also has a son on the same team, told the AP that she offered to take the student to prom in part to motivate him to improve his grades in his English class.
"If they go on [academic] probation and suspension, then they can't go to the track meets," Melissa Bowerman told the AP. "I said, 'OK, I will go with you, but we've got to talk about English first. You're going to do better in English.'"
Bowerman insisted that she and her date only danced to "a couple" of slow songs and spent the rest of the evening playing ping pong and foosball. The student's father also said he was OK with the coach escorting his son because, "Melissa has been like a surrogate mom to these kids for years."
The handling of Bowerman's dismissal wasn't done in the most tactful manner, either. With the Condon team preparing to load a bus for the state track and field meet, the Bowermans were told that Melissa could not ride on the team bus with the athletes, her husband and other parents.
In the meantime, Jon Bowerman has said he will consider resigning from the program if his wife is not allowed to return, a stunning turn of events just weeks after the school officially inaugurated a brand new, state of the art track that was made possible by a trade of the family heirloom Bowerman waffle iron that Jon's father, former Oregon track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, used to make running shoe soles for Nike that provided better traction.
"The only thing we've done wrong is build them a new track and get uniforms and build them a powerhouse program," Jon Bowerman told the AP. "If she doesn't come back, I'm not coming back."
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