LONGMONT — Skyline High School will be searching for a new boys basketball coach after firing Michael Peterson last week. But while the parting of ways is a perfectly acceptable outcome to Peterson after three seasons, the former coach apparently is far from happy with some of the situations he believes he was forced to endure during his tenure.
On Thursday, the Longmont Times-Call received documents prepared by Peterson outlining his stance that the transfer of a former Skyline player to Longmont High School a few years ago not only should not have been allowed, but that subsequent incidents sparked by the transfer were covered up by the Skyline administration.
The St. Vrain Valley School District issued a statement Friday saying it had investigated Peterson’s claims and uncovered no rules violations.
In the wake of his dismissal, Peterson said he put together nine information packets detailing his allegations, in addition to letters of recommendation and other personal references. Peterson said he sent these nine packets to school board members and parents, and that he stands by the information they contain. He adamantly denied sending the anonymous package that arrived at the Times-Call.
“I’d like to thank the parents and players within our program that were able to accept the high standards and expectations,” Peterson said. “I will leave knowing the program is far better than when I took the position three years ago.
“I don’t apologize or defend anything. We did things the right way, cleaned up a program filled with players previously unwilling to accept these standards both personally and academically.”
Peterson’s primary contention centers around the transfer of a former player who had been banned from Peterson’s Skyline squad due to what the coach said were multiple violations of team rules. When that student, who has since graduated, decided to transfer to Longmont, Peterson believed the move should have been blocked not only due to the rules violations, but also because he believed the move clearly was athletically-motivated. Such moves are violations of Colorado High School Activities Association guidelines.
This transfer has remained an ever-escalating issue between Peterson and the Jeff Kloster-led program at Longmont over the past two basketball seasons. Along the way Peterson alleges he was physically assaulted following a Skyline-Longmont game during the 2011-12 season, and then later was forced to defend himself from a bogus claim of physical abuse.
Most disturbing among these incidents, Peterson said, is his assertion he and his wife were followed home from this past season’s Skyline at Longmont contest on Feb. 9. Later that night Peterson says the windows of his car were smashed. Peterson, however, did not file a police report. Instead, Peterson said he reported the incident to Skyline athletic director Michael Green.
As is the case throughout Peterson’s allegations, the former Falcons coach maintains he reported every issue to Green, only to have the problems dismissed or ignored entirely. On multiple occasions in the Peterson documents sent to the Times-Call, the coach says he was told simply to “get over it” in regards to the player’s transfer and the resulting friction.
Green did not return multiple messages seeking comment.
However John Poynton, the public information officer for the St. Vrain Valley School District, issued the following statement: “The district has investigated these allegations. It has found no indications of wrongdoing and has no further comment.”
While Kloster did not want to comment on Peterson’s allegations directly, having not seen the documents, he was adamant that the Longmont athletic department cut no corners before welcoming the former Skyline player into the Trojans’ program. Kloster said the student-athlete was given a strict set of guidelines to follow and that he was monitored “not weekly, but daily.” Kloster said the player passed every test, met every guideline, and presented no discipline problems during his time at Longmont.
A source with CHSAA clarified that a student who wishes to transfer after encountering discipline issues at one school would only be ineligible at his or her new school if those issues led to a school suspension handed down by the institution and the school district. That never occurred in the case of the former Skyline student.
Regardless of how this drama plays out, Skyline will be seeking a new leader for a boys basketball program that enjoyed its fair share of ups and downs in just three seasons with Peterson, who compiled a 17-53 mark with the Falcons.
Peterson inherited a club that won only three games a year before his arrival, and in his first season of 2010-11 Skyline stumbled to a 2-21 mark as Peterson attempted to reshape the program’s entire culture. The Falcons appeared on the right track in 2011-12, putting together a 9-15 record that included a 7-7 record in league play and a berth in the Class 4A state tournament.
Although injuries were a contributing factor, this past season ultimately proved disappointing for Skyline. After a promising 3-0 start the Falcons won only three of the next 20 games, finishing the season with a 6-17 record.
“After three years of my financing the program year-round, sacrificing my life, both professionally and personally, it’s been a relief to some extent,” Peterson said. “I feel the loss of the young men in my life that have looked up to me for leadership and security that are now having to tackle many of the tough high school issues by themselves.”
Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07