CHARLOTTE – Bring Ernst back.
That community rallying cry has gotten louder in Charlotte over the past few days — but Steve Ernst and Charlotte Public Schools officials have been silent about the high school basketball coach’s future.
Ernst, who graduated from Charlotte in 1986 and was hired as Charlotte High School’s head varsity basketball coach in October of 2014, quit Monday. His resignation came after Ernst had been placed on his second individual development plan aimed at addressing the number of technical fouls he’s received during games. That number stands at six over the last 30 games, according to Ernst.
Charlotte Board of Education member Eric Emery said Ernst met with district officials on Tuesday evening but he said he didn’t know the outcome of the meeting. He said he didn’t know if members of the school board’s Human Resource Sub-Committee — including current board members Mike Bruce, Julie Kimmer and Gary King — will discuss Ernst’s resignation.
For their part, district officials aren’t talking.
Charlotte Superintendent Mark Rosekrans, Athletic Director Dan Stafford and Board of Education President Shane Gonser have not returned messages left by the State Journal seeking comment.
Rosekrans said Monday that he cannot publicly discuss personnel issues. Ernst, who spoke with the State Journal Monday, said technical fouls are sometimes part of the game. He did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Emery said he supports Ernst, and that school officials need to address the controversy.
“We definitely need to get to the bottom of this,” he said Wednesday. “We need to all come together and see what we can do to work things out. I work for the community and there’s a lot of community support on this issue.”
The meeting between Ernst and officials took place less than 24 hours after several hundred people packed a Charlotte Board of Education meeting Monday night and spoke in support of Ernst. Many demanded the district rehire him.
Those demands have since intensified.
On Tuesday Collin Garn, 18, a member of the varsity basketball team, said he and several teammates sat in the district’s administration building’s waiting room for six hours hoping to get a meeting with Rosekrans. They planned to urge him to contact Ernst.
“We decided as a team that we needed to go down there,” Garn said. “We know that if they make an effort to get coach back he’ll come back in a heartbeat.”
He said they were not able to get a meeting with Rosekrans and were asked to leave the office at 5 p.m. He said Ernst arrived there about 30 minutes later.
“We sat in our cars until coach showed up,” he said. “It was good to see him because we miss him a lot.”
Collin’s father Ryan Garn said the administration needs to rehire Ernst and said he believes they will.
“I just don’t believe that with the amount of support he (Ernst) has out there that they’ll make the same mistake twice,” he said. “There’s just no way.”
Charlotte graduate Alex Coy said the community’s outcry prompted him to establish a Facebook page in support of Ernst. The group “Charlotte Students, Alumni, and Community Members in Support of Coach Ernst” was created Tuesday. So far there are over 300 members.
“The fact that this is all about technical fouls seems silly,” said Coy. “It really seems like there’s more behind it than that, which is sad because kids are being impacted by this.”
Garn said players haven’t decided if they’ll play in the next scheduled game, at home on Friday against Pennfield High School.
“There’s been some discussion about it,” he said. “It’d be difficult to play without coach. No one wants to. We’re still not sure what we’re going to do.”
Contact Rachel Greco at (517) 528-2075 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.