High school coaches may sometimes rise to the level of local celebrity, but that doesn’t make them a public figure. That’s the official proclamation from the Minnesota state supreme court, which in turns sets the stage for a fascinating lawsuit to move forward.
As reported by Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, former Woodbury girls basketball coach Nathan McGuire did not qualify as a public figure based purely on his role as a high school coach. That decision paves the way for his 2015 lawsuit against a group of Woodbury girls basketball parents, led by a woman named Julie Bowlin.
According to McGuire’s lawsuit, Bowlin and other parents of players on the team filed false reports in an attempt to get him fired from his position. Prior rulings had sided with the parents in declaring that because McGuire was a high school coach, he was a public figure. That meant he had to prove that the parents knowingly filed a recklessly false report to undermine his position.
Now that he is officially not a public official, McGuire’s defamation case can be built on a lower threshold of evidence, making it much more likely to move forward.
It’s still far too early to know if McGuire’s case will exculpate him from wrongdoing, clear his name and potentially send him toward a remunerative reward in the process. However, the most recent decision changes the tenor and trajectory of his case, and potentially his coaching future.