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September 27, 2012 at 12:30 AM

Archbishop Murphy president responds to report stating interim football coach once engaged in inappropriate conduct with a student

Archbishop Murphy president Matt Schambari responded to an Everett Herald report that stated an investigation concluded interim football coach Mike Allison engaged in inappropriate conduct with a female student while working at a high school in Oregon.

Schambari adamantly defended the school’s hiring process, decision to hire Allison and, ultimately, Allison.

Allison, 41, took over as interim coach on Monday after Bill Marsh resigned just four games into his first year at the school. Allison was hired before this season and is listed on the school’s website as a health teacher and assistant coach.

The Herald’s report stated that Allison gave up his teaching license in Oregon after an investigation found he had engaged in inappropriate conduct with a female student. Allison served as the head coach at Gresham High School in Gresham, Ore., from 2004 to 2009, when he resigned after an investigation found, among other things, that he “communicated inappropriately with a female student via cell phone and text messaging and failed to maintain an appropriate professional relationship with a student,” the Herald’s report said.

The report also stated that Allison entered a formal stipulation. Here is the full report.

In response, Schambari told the Times on Wednesday night, that “it was an incident, an allegation that we were aware of, that we thoroughly vetted and there really wasn’t anything there.”

He also said that, in regard to Allison signing the stipulation, “he was advised by his union rep to sign off on that agreement so, basically, that goes away and he can get on with his life. He vehemently denies it, and he’s going to have a hearing to have his license reinstated and to have that record expunged.”

Schambari said he talked with parents before the article came out on Wednesday evening. He said he explained that the school thoroughly looked into the matter when hiring Allison. Allison was one of three finalists for the head coaching position that eventually went to Marsh.

“The last week has been unfortunate,” Schambari said. “We never anticipated a coaching change. That definitely caught us by surprise with coach Marsh’s resignation. I think it’s kind of interesting that the day after the resignation of coach Marsh is announced that somebody runs this story. But, you know, it’s alright. We’re going to be very up front with people, we’re going to be very transparent with people. We have a good process. We hire good people, and we support our people.”

Said Marsh via a text message: “I knew nothing of these allegations until I was informed about them (Wednesday). Mike Allison is a wonderfully faith-filled, family man and excellent coach. He has been first class since day one. I would hire him again in a heartbeat. He teaches my daughter, and I trust him completely. It is sad that people continue to try to ruin another man’s career with their own agendas. The kids of AMHS have endured enough.”

Here are all of Schambari’s comments on the issue.

Archbishop Murphy president Matt Schambari:

“It was an incident, an allegation that we were aware of, that we thoroughly vetted and there really wasn’t anything there. There wasn’t any charges brought. There wasn’t any negative investigation. We talked to countless sources when we did our background checks, and everything had come back totally positive. He had been picked up by two other schools after that. To me, it was a non-story. I was a little surprised, a little taken aback that that was even an issue because there really wasn’t anything there.”

“In talking with him and looking at the report ourselves, he didn’t admit to any wrongdoing. He was advised by his union rep to sign off on that agreement so, basically, that goes away and he can get on with his life. He vehemently denies it, and he’s going to have a hearing to have his license reinstated and to have that record expunged.”

“We try to keep open channels of communication with our parents as much as possible. The fact that this became an issue based on an allegation that was unfounded from years ago, it did kind of take us by surprise. But our coach has been totally up front about it. When it looked like the Herald was going to run it, we had a conversation with our parents just to reassure them we thoroughly vet our people. When you work for a school, you go through some of the most rigorous background checks imaginable. There really wasn’t anything there, and that’s what we shared with our parents.”

“(Candidates) go through an extensive criminal background check. People get fingerprinted. We called multiple references. We actually talked to references from the high school in question that were all very positive and supportive of the coach. We do our homework. We do our due diligence. Student safety is always our number one priority.”

“I was a bit surprised and disappointed (about the article coming out) because, like I said, I feel like he’s a really good man and he has been very up front and forthright with us. There were no criminal charges, there were no civil charges, there were no charges of any kind that came out of this allegation so we felt comfortable moving forward.”

“The way I respond to it is, he did what he was advised to do, and he is now taking steps to change that outcome. Like I said, we feel like ultimately he will get his license reinstated and it will all be very positive. But there was nothing there in any of our checks or anything that we did. What I would say to my parents is that our processes are very thorough. Multiple schools have hired this gentleman for a reason. If there was anything substantial there, he would have never gotten hired anywhere. And if there was anything substantial there, he would have been prosecuted.”

“The last week has been unfortunate. We never anticipated a coaching change. That definitely caught us by surprise with coach Marsh’s resignation. I think it’s kind of interesting that the day after the resignation of coach Marsh is announced that somebody runs this story. But, you know, it’s alright. We’re going to be very up front with people, we’re going to be very transparent with people. We have a good process. We hire good people, and we support our people.”

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