Center Grove coach accused of verbally abusing players, others dispute the allegations and show support


Center Grove coach Eric Moore

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GREENWOOD, Ind. – Center Grove High School's head football coach, Eric Moore, is accused of being "verbally abusive" to his players, and an investigation is underway, but some people in the community came together Thursday to show their support for him, and say they don't believe the allegations are true.

The group supporting Moore came out to a regularly scheduled community meeting with Center Grove superintendent, Dr. Rich Arkanoff at Jack's Donuts in Greenwood, and used it as an opportunity to talk to him about the investigation.

Dr. Arkanoff was unable to speak about the case to FOX59 on camera, but did release a statement saying in part:

“The school corporation retained an outside independent investigator to conduct an investigation into these allegations. This investigation is still ongoing and is anticipated to be wrapped up within the next few weeks.”

This is now the second investigation into Moore’s conduct this year.

In February, school officials say Moore was placed on paid administrative leave as the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services investigated allegations that he assaulted an athlete. Later that month, Moore was reinstated after CPS determined those assault allegations were unsubstantiated.

While school officials have not been able to release any other details about both cases, those who came together on Thursday wanted to make sure their support for Moore was heard.

"Coach Moore has been a mentor in my life. He’s been probably the biggest influence other than my dad and God," said former Center Grove football player Josh Kimbowa.

“He always motivates you to be better -- it’s never like, ‘oh great job,’ if you didn’t do a great job. Coach Moore is a great man and he has a great heart," Kimbowa said.

Other former players like Joel Cox talked about Moore's impact.

"The last thing Coach Moore used to say to us before we left the locker room was, 'I love you and I am proud to be your coach.' Well, it is our time as a community to say, we love you, coach, and we are proud of this community," Cox said.

Some parents who talked to FOX59 said they were upset about the public getting a one-sided view of the situation.

"We feel the media is only hearing one side of the story and we’re coming together to let people know the impact he’s had on many kids," said Brad Riley, whose two sons were coached by Moore.

“I understand why people want to be anonymous, but we live in a society today where you can throw out anything that anyone wants to say, and then it be reported. We want fairness. We don’t know what’s been said, I can only tell you that hundreds of people -- ex-players, parents, people who never played for the man -- are all showing their support. He’s a man of character and we support him," said Aaron Hohlt, President of the Gridiron Club and father of five children.

Another parent, Rob Tolle, says he's known Moore as a coach, but also through his job as a High School Football Official.

"The accusations are wrong, they’re totally wrong.  I have seen him as an official, and coaches like to yell at officials, that’s okay -- but he does it in the right way. He’s protecting his boys and he knows the game of football," Tolle said.

Moore was named Indiana High School Coach of the Year of the Indy Star for 2015-2016. That season, the team went undefeated and won the 6A State Championship.

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