Coach, not terminated, speaks out

Mecklenburg County Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols contacted the South Hill Enterprise on Wednesday to say he had been premature in his statement that Park View High School varsity boys basketball coach Brian Sykes was terminated as part of the Mecklenburg County School Board’s action suspending the remainder of the Dragons’ season after players were involved in a fight at Brunswick High School last Saturday.
Nichols said he had based that assessment on the fact that the school board had canceled the remainder of the season, and “if there is no season, there is no coach.” However, he said the school board did not officially take a personnel action terminating the coach.
The school board will hear an appeal on Jan. 4 from Park View players’ parents who believe the season should be reinstated.
If the school board were to reverse its decision, Sykes said he expects to remain the head coach.
The fight occurred in the stands during the nightcap of the Bulldog Classic holiday basketball tournament as host Brunswick led Petersburg in the second quarter. Nichols said eight of the 14 Park View team members, fresh off a win over Armstrong High School, were involved.
While acknowledging the actions of the players involved in the fight were wrong, Sykes said he believes the school board overreacted in its decision to cancel the remainder of the season, an action which he said is unfair to the players who were not involved in the fight.
“They are giving the kids capital punishment,” Sykes said. “The kids know they were wrong. They made a mistake. They will not forget this incident. I feel bad for them, because they are just kids. It’s not fair to the ones that didn’t do anything. If you saw someone kick or punch, then they should be dealt with accordingly.”
“I think they overreacted by canceling the season.”
Sykes said Virginia High School League guidelines call for a three-game suspension for players involved in fighting, which he believes could be applied to this situation.
He said if the school board upholds its decision to suspend the remainder of the season, it will adversely affect the Park View basketball program for years to come.
“The program will never be the same,” Sykes said.