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June 12, 2013

South girls basketball coach must sit out first six games of 2013-14 season

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Grosse Pointe South girls basketball coach Kevin Richards, pictured during a 2012-13 regular season game against Utica High, has been suspended for the first six games of the 2013-14 season after it was found he violated an MHSAA undue influence policy.

GROSSE POINTE — Grosse Pointe South High School girls varsity basketball coach Kevin Richards has been suspended for six games after officials with the Grosse Pointe Public School System and the Michigan High School Athletic Association found Richards to have violated an undue influence clause regarding possible recruitment in the MHSAA’s rulebook.

Richards, who led the Blue Devils to back-to-back state-final appearances in 2012 and 2013, will sit out the first six games of the 2013-14 season, according to MHSAA President Jack Roberts.

As part of the MHSAA investigation, Roberts said it was found Richards attended games of an eighth-grade student, evaluated tapes of the athlete and contacted her on Twitter.

“While these are violations, they’re not as egregious as some of the other things we have seen, and we took into consideration those other things and the penalties that were handed out, and we believed a three-game suspension was enough,” Roberts said.

According to Roberts, the MHSAA and GPPSS were made aware of the possible recruiting violations via a packet sent to them anonymously in March.

The two entities conducted a two-month investigation before deeming Richards in violation in two areas: one regarding contact via Twitter (covered in sections 104 and 105 of the MHSAA rulebook, according to Roberts) and another that prohibits coaches from attending middle school basketball games (covered in section 106 of the rulebook, Roberts said).

Following the investigation, MHSAA officials decided to suspend Richards for three games. GPPSS tacked three more games on, according to GPPSS Community Relations Specialist Rebecca Fannon.

In a statement released by GPPSS through Fannon, district officials said they took the allegations seriously and conducted a full internal and external investigation. The statement went on to say the district holds itself to a higher standard and “thus have instituted stiff penalties, which will include a short hiatus by our head (girls basketball) coach.”

“We were glad to see the school took the action and added additional games to the penalty,” Roberts said. “With the outcome of the investigation, we deem the disciplinary action satisfactory because, when you look at it, six games is one-third of the regular season.”

On June 10, Richards was reached via phone and said he was not allowed to comment on the ruling.

Roberts said the penalty is sufficient and no other action needs to be taken.

“We appreciate the work of the MHSAA board and understand their decision,” Fannon said in a statement. “Our goals for the program remain the same. We have supportive parents, the most dedicated players in the state, and together we are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards for all of our coaches and players.”

GPPSS officials in their statement said they understand Richards is dedicated to the development of youth basketball in the Grosse Pointe community and surrounding areas.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.