GREENWOOD, Ind.– Parents are showing an outpouring of support for Center Grove High School’s head football coach as an investigation is underway into accusations he was verbally abusive toward his players.
Thursday night, parents and players met in the stands of Center Grove Bantam Football League’s field, armed with signs of support for coach Eric Moore.
“Like we do with any event we’re about team, we’re about family,” said parent Melanie Piper.
“Just a show of support for coach Moore, just extenuating circumstances for him and his family with everything that’s happened this week, just want to show all the support we possibly can,” said parent Jim Boswell.
In a statement, Center Grove Superintendent Dr. Rich Arkanoff said in February, the school corporation received an allegation Moore had assaulted an athlete. He said Indiana DCS notified the district; it was determined that the assault allegation was unsubstantiated. The superintendent wrote that additional claims were made against Moore “… alleging that he was abusing his authority as a coach by being verbally abusive toward his players.” An independent investigator has been retained to look into those allegations.
“A bit of disbelief,” parent and football coach Dan Fruits said. “I didn’t feel like there was any way that that could be true, felt like the man I know as the head coach of the football program and head coach of the track program would not treat players, anyone for that matter, the way it’s been described.”
Parents gathered at the field recalled times when Moore helped them. Piper said knowing her sons were Ohio State fans, Moore arranged for them to meet then-Buckeye head football coach Jim Tressel. Others described seeing Moore out at the youth football league field on a Saturday watching games and the role he has had in helping shape their children.
“Coach is a second father thankfully to my boys and I won’t get emotional, but coach Moore is an integral part of this community,” said parent Todd Pence.
IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said the association is not involved in any investigation with Moore. He said the association could become involved in an investigation if there is evidence that IHSAA bylaws have been violated. At his time, Cox said there has been no evidence presented to IHSAA to that effect.
The school corporation expects the investigation to be wrapped up in the next few weeks. In the meantime, parents said they’ll continue showing their support for Moore.
Center Grove Schools sent the following message to families in the district on Thursday, May 3:
The past week has been a difficult one in our community. Local media outlets have reported about an investigation into allegations made against Coach Eric Moore. While we cannot provide details regarding the ongoing investigation, we recognize that this is a very difficult time for our community, especially for the families who are involved.
As you know, the well-being of our students is our top priority. We also have an important responsibility to ensure our staff members are treated fairly. In order to fulfill both of these responsibilities, we must take seriously any allegations made against a staff member brought to our attention. We determined an outside, unbiased, and independent investigation was appropriate in this situation. Please know that the existence of the investigation is not an indication of guilt or proof of innocence.
Our commitment to serving the best interest of our students remains our primary focus. Our high school principal, Mr. Henderson, is working diligently with his staff to ensure support is available to students. We welcome the information and support many of you have shared and appreciate your understanding during this process.