Charlotte coaching controversy: team will play

CHARLOTTE, MI (WLNS) – A community in disarray, a school board president gone and a beloved basketball coach on the outside looking in.

The Charlotte School Board upheld the resignation of Coach Steve Ernst at a special meeting on Thursday night.

Players who supported the coach considered not playing Friday in protest of what they see as a “forced resignation.”

After a highly contentious week that saw the school board president and the varsity basketball coach resign, Charlotte Orioles basketball players decide late this afternoon to go ahead and play the game tonight under interim head coach and athletic director Dan Stafford.

This all culminating in an emotional special meeting Thursday night, leaving the Charlotte community to pick up the pieces.

Dozens of people in Charlotte rallied in support of Coach Steve Ernst during an hours long meeting in front of a large crowd including his own players.

But in the end, the rally cries fell short.

In a 5-1 vote the Charlotte School Board upheld Ernst’s resignation leaving many upset.

“Players were crying, parents were crying, board members were crying. Um, there was a lot of people that were angry, yelling. Um, there was a couple altercations at the front of the board room. And, the police were there and it was not a good scene,” said Ryan Garn, parent of basketball player.

On Thursday night, players trying to make a decision whether to play, again looked for answers.

“They went to Coach Ernst’s house last night to spend some time with him. They were very, very distraught as to what to do.”

In a statement prepared by the board of education, it was declared that the decision to leave his coaching position in Charlotte was Coach Ernst’s decision and his decision alone. It later went on to state there will be no more resignations or firings related to this incident with the reiteration that violence or intimidation must stop now.

With a new school board president and the interim head coach in athletic director Dan Stafford, a close community needs healing.

“This was a bad situation, we understand Coach Ernst is not going to be the coach at Charlotte, but we’re still here. He’s not here, but we’re still here and we gotta keep fighting.”

People have been asked to wear black to Friday’s game in honor of their former coach.

In a letter to administration, Superintendent Mark Rosekrans described Steve Ernst as a “black mark” on their community.

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