November 3, 2012 in High School
Goodrich coach Gary Barns, one of the most respected high school coaches in the state, has been going through stressful situations both related to basketball and real life, the last couple years. The far more serious, caring for his son, who is battling cancer, has coincided with Barns’ professional reputation being scrutinized by a few angry parents in the district. View Newspapers covered some of the issues at hand earlier this year:
Goodrich Basketball Scout James LeGrow said he thinks Barns’ leave of absence stems from issues with three players and one former player that quit the team.
“I am ashamed at what is going on in the community right now,” LeGrow said. “Four people, four families quit and the superintendent says they go back on the team … once you quit, you are gone. I think it is appalling that these parents didn’t set up a meeting to talk with Coach Barns or athletic director or principal, but right to the superintendent.”
The accusations are unclear, at least publicly, although the innuendos seem to suggest parents of players being upset that their kids lost playing time to kids who transferred into the district who were better players than their kids, although there aren’t a lot of details about that. The MHSAA is reportedly looking into the allegations.
Obviously, the full story is based on a lot of innuendo and probably only a handful of people are privy to all the details. Here’s what I know about Barns, though: he’s a great, great basketball coach who loves the game like few coaches I’ve encountered at suburban programs; he’s built Goodrich into an absolutely great gym for home basketball games (and one that opposing coaches HATE playing in) and there are an army of former players, coaching colleagues and others who have watched him up close who respect him, like him and are insistent that these vague accusations made against him are not credible ones and certainly not ones he should lose his job over. Jared Field of Great Lakes Hoops reports that Barns will be put on administrative leave and Barns’ attorney also released a statement via GLH:
From George Hamo, legal counsel for Goodrich Coach Gary Barnes:
To Gary’s supporters (of which I am one): I wanted on behalf of Coach Barns to provide you with the correct information. Gary was not around alot during the summer of 2011 because of the serious medical issues and needs with his son David. As the head coach, he acknowledged responsibility for his staff’s actions during that time, and has been placed on administrative leave for this season only….He WILL return as head coach next season. He would not have been able to coach this year due to David’s medical issues any way. The school district is recommending to the MHSAA that he return as head coach effective June 1, 2013. The MHSAA will weigh in on the date of the return next week. It will be either June 1, 2013, Aug 1, 2013, or mid Oct, 2013.Because of a couple disgruntled parents’ complaints, he did acknowledge that sometimes he used profanity. That had NOTHING to do with the MHSAA at all. NOTHING. He is a stand up guy, and as the head coach takes responsiblity for the actions of his staff. He’s looking forward to returning next season, but right now his thoughts are appropriately with his son and family. From Coach and his entire family, he can’t thank you enough for your continued support. Your love and support have been tremendous, and has touched Coach and his family deeply.All of you know how much Coach loves Goodrich schools, the Goodrich community, the players, and the boys basketball program. It’s time to turn the page and move forward. Coach has done that, and wants all of you to do so as well.
The Flint Journal also reported that the health of Barns’ son– the far, far more important issue here — prevented Barns from coaching this season. Barns declined commented, but did send a statement for Eric Woodyard’s story:
“With the serious medical issues involving my son David, it has been very stressful for our family. It was and still is a very difficult time,” Barns said in a statement. “I wasn’t around the basketball program a lot during the summer of 2011 due to David’s medical needs, but as the head coach I am responsible for the program and actions of my staff during that time in regard to the MHSAA.
“I have been told by the district I will be the head coach next season (2013-14) and look forward to it,” Barns said. “I ask for your thoughts and prayers for our family. From all of us, we sincerely appreciate and thank you for all of your continued support.”
Again, the far more serious situation here is the health of Barns’ son, David. That’s where I’m sure Barns’ priorities have been and hopefully the time off this year allows him all the time he needs to take care of his family. I think everyone would love to see him back coaching someday if that’s what he wants, but basketball is obviously low on the priority list here.