SPOKANE, Wash. – Records from Spokane Public Schools obtained through a public records request by KREM 2 News are giving new insight into why the Ferris High School varsity football coach was placed on paid administrative leave back in February.
Ferris (Spokane, Wash.) football Coach Jim Sharkey is being investigated over several claims, including that he exposed himself to players at a leadership camp during the summer of 2016 and allowed hazing among his players.
The records obtained by KREM 2 News include written notes from Spokane Public Schools administrator Mary Templeton from her meetings with Sharkey, emails from concerned parents and students about Sharkey’s alleged behavior, an anonymous letter to Ferris administrators from a concerned parent of a football player and formal letters to Sharkey himself from Spokane Public Schools. KREM 2 attempted to reach out to Sharkey and told KREM to contact his lawyer. KREM 2 has reached out to the his lawyer and left a voicemail.
The camp was held in August on an 1,000 acre ranch near Cataldo, Idaho. School records said Sharkey took the players there as part of a leadership exercise. The students camped in tents, swam in the river and removed downed tree limbs.
A player who attended the camp came forward and said while Sharkey was grilling hot dogs when he placed his penis inside a hot dog bun and showed it to players. Sharkey allegedly said, “You think that is a big dog – take a look at this,” according to district records. Records show a variety of different versions of this statement from student players.
Sharkey had a meeting with the district’s Director of Certified Personnel Mary Templeton on August 31 to discuss the allegation. School records state that Sharkey told Templeton, “That is the biggest lie I have ever heard. 100 percent total lie.”
There were also allegations that students who attended camp were driven around in vehicles by coaches who were under the influence of alcohol. Sharkey also denied those allegations to school officials but said the ranch hosts were drinking in front of the players at dinner.
On September 13, Sharkey was given a written warning by Templeton. The warning states that the district was unable to substantiate either the allegations about drinking or that he exposed himself.
“The District was, however, able to substantiate by your own admission, that there was alcohol consumed in front of students by the camp ‘hosts’ and that at least one camp ‘host’ had unsupervised access to students while under the influence of alcohol,” Templeton wrote. “The District was able to substantiate that you compromised the safety of students by failing to supervise them appropriately and failing to sufficiently provide for their safety.”
Sharkey was then allowed to coach the football team to a 5-5 season. But more allegations were made in January.
On January 25, a student told school officials that Sharkey had called him a “dip s—” and said he was “going to punch him in the face.” On the same day, he allegedly called a cheerleader a “puck bunny” because she is friends with players on the Spokane Chiefs.
Then, by January 31 more and more students had come forward to complain about Sharkey’s conduct. Templeton again confronted Sharkey in a meeting over these claims.
According to school records, Templeton told him she was concerned he lied about exposing himself and drinking alcohol at the camp over the summer. Sharkey said, “You already investigated this and I signed a paper,” according to the documents.
She said she had received new information that he had exposed himself.
“How many students said I exposed myself?” said Sharkey.
“Several,” Templeton replied.
“Oh come on – how many?!” Sharkey said.
“Numerous,” said Templeton
“Oh please. Several – numerous?!” Sharkey said.
Templeton eventually told Sharkey three students had reported it. She also brought up that several students were also saying he was drinking on the porch at the camp and again he denied it. Templeton asked him if he thought the students were lying and he said, “I don’t know. I am a football coach. I am a target.”
She also brought up allegations of hazing among his players. Students had reported a thing called “juicing” where the team would get in a big group on someone’s birthday and stick their fingers in the student’s anus, according to school documents. Templeton told Sharkey it had been going on for three years. Sharkey said he would not allow this to happen in his program and that there was no bullying going on. He said there was hazing in the program 10 years ago and he put a stop to it.
Templeton then brought up the claims that he had been saying inappropriate things to students. According to school records, Sharkey admitted to calling a student a “dip s—” and calling another student a “puck bunny.” Sharkey said he didn’t mean for the puck bunny comment to be inappropriate and that he did not mean it in a sexual manner.
“I think that some of this stuff is taken out of context. But I did say those things,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey did not admit to other claims made by students. Those include allegations that he called them “handicaps” when they weren’t behaving. Sharkey said he doesn’t remember doing that. Templeton also brought up that he called a cheerleader “little miss labor day” at lunch in front of her peers because she couldn’t make a football game over the Labor Day weekend.
Then during the meeting, school records show that Sharkey was informed he would be placed on administrative leave with pay.
“This is a witch hunt,” said Sharkey. “I do a lot for this school…It is going to be difficult to replace me at this time. This is my life – this is all I do.”
He went on to say, “Now I am paranoid and concerned if I peed outside I would be in trouble. You better have dates and times of the juicing. If you say 10 to 15 times – you just better be able to tell me exactly when, where.”
Sharkey said he would be speaking to district leaders about this saying, “When this is over I will need to sit down with you and the superintendent to talk about how I have been treated by you. Just know- I am meeting with the superintendent about this and you.”
School records show Sharkey was placed on paid leave starting February 1. Documents said his leave would continue until further notice.