Coach cuts high school senior from basketball team to retaliate against dad, suit says

Two high school basketball coaches are being sued over a senior’s playing time in Wisconsin.

A Waunakee Community High School senior and his father filed the lawsuit against the coaches on April 30, according to records obtained by WISN.

The pair said the son’s playing time was reduced “as a means to retaliate” against his father’s “exercise of free speech,” according to the suit.

In 2022, the father was part of a group of parents working to remove the head coach of the high school basketball team at the time due to suspicions of financial misconduct, the suit said.

McClatchy News reached out to the Waunakee Community School District on May 10 for comment but did not immediately hear back.

The current coach declined to comment to McClatchy News. Attorneys for both coaches declined to comment on the lawsuit to WISN.

As the father continued to speak out against the coach, his son’s playing time was “gradually reduced,” according to the suit.

The school district did not renew the coach’s contract for the 2022-23 season and named the former assistant as the new head coach.

In a 2023 preseason meeting with prospective players, the new coach is accused of saying, “you are either all in or all out, and we are going to get rid of the toxic parents,” the complaint said.

According to the suit, this was a direct reference to the father.

Despite meeting “every requirement” during tryouts, the son was cut from the team his senior season, records show.

“If playing time is decided by parents instead of the coach, and a coach can be sued over playing time, then you tell me who is going to go into coaching?” Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Executive Director Jerry Petitgoue told WISN. “I think it sets a bad precedent for all high school sports to be honest with you.”

The pair is seeking damages and a jury trial, records show.

Waunakee is about a 15-mile drive north from Madison.

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