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Bullied Iowa girls' basketball coaches resign over alleged threats from parents

Ben Rohrbach
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Independence (Iowa) High assistant girls' basketball coach Rob Ratchford resigned over alleged bullying from parents. (KCRG-TV)
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Independence (Iowa) High assistant girls' basketball coach Rob Ratchford resigned over alleged bullying from parents. (KCRG-TV)

Feuds over playing time between coaches and the parents of players probably date back a few days after Dr. Naismith put up a peach basket, but one such dispute reached a breaking point in Iowa this week.

Two Independence (Iowa) High girls' basketball coaches quit as the result of persistent bullying from parents over the the distribution of minutes, Mustangs assistant coach Rob Ratchford told KCRG-TV.

While Ratchford claimed they receive incessant phone calls leading up to and following games this past season, this time it allegedly went too far. "I received phone calls this week threatening to fight me," he told the local televistion station, "to come over to the house and fight him over summer basketball stuff."

Independence head coach Rob Conrad and Ratchford handed in their resignations on Friday, reportedly intending to send a message to the parents in question. The district received the message loud and clear.

In the days after the report, Independence Community School District officials released a statement to local media attempting to clarify the situation. According to the statement, Conrad is currently reconsidering his resignation upon meeting with the administration. Ratchford insisted he will not return. Meanwhile, three other Independence assistants have not resigned as initially reported by KCRG-TV.

“I am extremely appreciative of the support that the school board, administration, fellow coaches, community members and my family have provided me,” said Head Coach Rod Conrad. “The administration supports me 100 percent. The administration is already taking action to further tighten up and improve the parent-coach protocol in our district. They are now aware of the specific issues that pushed me toward submitting my resignation last week. Since that time, I am amazed at the amount of community support and encouragement I’ve been receiving to remain the Head Coach for the Independence Mustangs girls’ basketball program. Based on action plans the administration has been putting in place to improve the situation, I’m giving serious consideration to staying on to lead the girls’ basketball program in the future. I will likely make my decision by the middle of next week. Until that time, I will not comment any further on this issue.”

How exactly the Independence administration plans to "tighten up and improve the parent-coach protocal" remains unclear, but asking parents not to challenge coaches to fights might be a start.

The Mustangs finished 10-12 this past season, according to the Iowa High School Athletic Association. Ratchford's sister, Kelsey, led the Mustangs in scoring with 12.7 points per game.

"I think the parents need to understand that it's just a sport," Kelsey Ratchford told KCRG-TV, "and that Conrad is teaching us more than just basketball. He's teaching us life lessons to work hard."

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