Report: No unlawful conduct in Spa school athletics

SARATOGA SPRINGS -The long awaited report involving allegations of abuse by coaches in the Saratoga Springs City School District was released late Wednesday afternoon.

Allegations of coaching abuse that created a “toxic culture” in that school district’s athletics program has been brewing for more than three decades.

Saratoga HS Athletics report released

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Over the course of 35 years, student/athletes, former athletes, and parents have been complaining about coaching abuse, harassment, bullying, and other alleged bad behavior within Saratoga Springs City School District.

Late last year, the district received a 77-page letter outlining what those complainants labeled a “toxic culture” which prompted the hiring of the Harris Beach Law Firm to conduct an independent investigation.

Investigators conducted more than 30 interviews and reviewed more than two thousand pages of documents.

Among the complaints: some athletes say they were forced to run while injured; others say they were forced to over-train — in some cases seven days a week; there were allegations that coaches administered vitamin B powder without parental consent — which caused an athlete to become ill; there were allegations that coaches regulated food intake; and in some instances, yelled at athletes during and after races for poor performance.

Although complaints were made against five of the district’s athletic teams, most of them involved the cross country program.

Records indicate that cross country coaches were spoken to about the many complaints several times by school district officials.

After spending several months conducting the investigation, Harris Beach concluded there was no unlawful conduct; matters that the district was made aware of were addressed in a “timely manner”; disciplinary action was taken; some coaches were fired; and some coaches were counseled.

In a statement released Wednesday, School district Superintendent Dr. Michael Patton said, “We are determined to use the results of this investigation and the report’s findings to make our strong athletic program even better.”

The report is expected to be main topic of conversation Thursday night at the Board of Education meeting, during which Patton says he will answer questions from the public.