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Prep Sports: East’s McKenzie suspended with pay

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY ó This is usually the time of year East Rowan boys basketball coach Greg McKenzie is planning his kids camps, his summer schedule and open gym workouts.
Now, he’s wondering if he should be planning on coaching somewhere else next year.
McKenzie, in his fifth year at East Rowan, has been put on administrative leave with pay pending an internal invesitgation, according to Rowan Schools public information officer Rita Foil.
When asked if the investigation was complete, assistant superintendant of human resources Delores Morris said, “Not entirely.”
McKenzie’s suspension revolves around an April 22 incident in his P.E. class with a student who accused McKenzie of punching him in the stomach and knocking the wind out of him.
McKenzie denies the allegations, saying that, without breaking stride, he walked by the student and playfully gave him a soft tap in stomach. It was not malicious in any way, he said.
“He was just playing around like he always does,” McKenzie said.
When he heard the student curse, he told him to do 10 pushups. According to McKenzie, when the student refused, he took hold of the student’s ear and said, “Do your pushups.”
The parents questioned what happened, but McKenzie said he did not get the chance to tell them his side of the story.
McKenzie said he doesn’t believe there has been a complete investigation. He was told the other P.E. teacher, whom he said was standing nearby and heard the student cursing, would be interviewed.
“That’s what I was told,” McKenzie said. “It hasn’t happened.”
The other P.E. teacher has given a written statement, however, according to Morris.
McKenzie added, “I was told that everyone in her class would be interviewed. That hasn’t happened either. So I don’t consider that a complete investigation.”
McKenzie said teachers at the school have told him what the students from his class who were interviewed are saying.
“They’re telling me that 90 percent of the students said it was all playful,” he said.
McKenzie is the most successul boys basketball coach in East history. He is 88-25 in his five seasons. In his first four years, his teams won 24, 18, 23 and 23 games. He even led the Mustangs to their first trip to Western Regional final in 2005.
East had to rebuild this past season, going 7-16.
Will the rebuilding continue under McKenzie? School officials acknowledge that there have been no formal complaints or charges filed against McKenzie, but he is still left to ponder his future during what he calls a “paid vacation.” He said he’d much rather be teaching.
McKenzie said he is to meet with principal Kelly Sparger and Morris on June 12.
When asked what the meeting would be about, McKenzie said, “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

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