Correction/clarification: The headline on this article has been revised to remove any implication that the coach allowed a parent to burn a jacket on school grounds. The article also has been updated to correct the location of the burning, which occurred outside the team’s locker room.
With his Macomb (Mich.) Dakota High School program kicking off against Chippewa Valley (Mich.) on Nov. 1, Dakota coach Greg Baur was looking for an upset playoff win. He got one, but then an unexpected celebration outside the team locker room left him suspended for the team’s second-round playoff game last Friday.
As reported by Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ and the Macomb Daily, Baur was suspended after the father of one of his players burned a Chippewa Valley letter jacket outside the team’s locker room on school property. The scene was meant to celebrate the team’s victory, but also drew consternation from school officials and others who claimed it left the players at too great a risk.
“A Dakota parent chose to burn his letter jacket on Dakota property,” Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts told Macomb Daily. “He soaked and doused it with Tiki torch fuel and when the players got off the bus, he encouraged them to gather around and watch it burn. I consider that to be an unsafe situation.
“The district’s investigation determined that although the Dakota coaches did not have prior knowledge of the actions taken by the parent, once the coaches were aware, they did not take steps the district expects of its coaches to ensure student safety.”
Because the incident was deemed to expose an unsafe environment, Baur was handed a one-game suspension … which just happened to overlap with the team’s second-round playoff appearance. That game — a 38-35 loss to Sterling Heights (Mich.) Stevenson High on Nov. 8 — left some wondering if the result might have been different had Baur been allowed to coach in the game. Meanwhile, the father who burned the jacket has since come forward to take full responsibility for the jacket burning and asked others, including Baur, to be released from responsibility.
That in turn led to a change.org petition calling for players and coaches who were blamed in the incident to be exonerated. While more than 1,100 signed the petition, school officials still insist they have no interest in releasing Baur and others from responsibility for the dangerous locker room moment. Here was Roberts’ response to those calls:
“It is our belief that the situation was not handled properly. The coaching staff had the responsibility to move the kids away from this. This is about a lack of adult leadership.”