Girls on the basketball team at Salmen High School in Slidell, La., were kicked off the team a day after they boycotted a game. They say they refused to play because complaints about their new coach were not properly addressed, the New Orleans Advocate reports.
Seven girls in total were kicked off the team Wednesday after first-year coach Panos Bountovinas met with the players. When the girls inquired why they were being booted off the team, Principal Brennan McCurley reportedly told them that they weren’t allowed to ask questions, senior Kayla Sibley told the news site.
Sibley said that she wasn’t comfortable because Bountovinas often touched her.
“I felt uncomfortable around him on and off the court because he was very feely—hand on the shoulders and other places and stuff,” Sibley said. “It made me feel uncomfortable. I never had a touchy-feely coach before. I felt uncomfortable.”
Darnelle Webb, Myrezonte Cooper, Amara Bickham, Jazmine McKain, Antoinette Neal and Brianna Rudolph were also kicked off the team. Parents of the girls were supposed to meet with McCurley Thursday morning.
“They didn’t play because we wanted to get the principal and coach to the table to talk about the issues we have,” one parent, Myles Cooper, explained to the Advocate. “This is not a witch hunt against the coach. We want the best for our kids, and we want our kids safe.”
The girls decided not to show up for their Tuesday road game, and instead attended the boys’ basketball game at Salmen.
The coach, according to the Advocate, is in his first season at the school, having spent two seasons at Mount Carmel, leading that team to the Class 5A state championship in 2014. He was named the New Orleans Advocate’s Metro Coach of the Year for Large Schools that season, the site notes. He resigned from Mount Carmel before last season for personal reasons, according to the site.
During his first season with Salmen, however, the girls began to raise concerns.
“There were two games this season when [female assistant coach Wendy Stampley] told him to get out of the locker room while we were dressing. He hesitated,” Sibley said. “[Previous] coach [Kevin] Anderson last year never had that problem. Coach Bountovinas was just standing there. It took him a while to get out. This has happened more than once.”
Read more at the New Orleans Advocate.