In emails, Huron coach implores district to clear his name following football brawl
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
- Related: Football brawl: Referee report describes push from Huron coach, racial epithet from Huron player before incident
In the days following the on-field brawl between the Huron and Pioneer football teams, then-Huron coach Cory Gildersleeve sent a series of emails to district administrators, team members and Huron colleagues expressing regret for the incident while also maintaining he did not incite the brawl in an attempt to clear his name.
Gildersleeve, in the e-mails, also accuses Pioneer coach Paul Test of lying in public statements, laments his directive to not speak publicly in the days after the game, and implores district officials to release a statement saying he did not push Test.
Gildersleeve announced Nov. 8 that he was stepping down as Huron’s football coach, four weeks after the brawl and three weeks after his team finished an 0-9 season. He remains employed as a physical education teacher at Huron High School.
Gildersleeve did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday. The emails were released to AnnArbor.com in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The day after the fight, Gildersleeve sent Huron athletic director Dottie Davis a statement intended for a local television station, and accused Test of telling “lie after lie about what happened.”
“I cannot stand mute and keep getting driven into the ground like this,” Gildersleeve wrote. “It is wrong. I don’t deserve that.”
In several emails, Gildersleeve maintains that he did not have any physical altercation with Test, citing video of the incident and eyewitness testimony. He claims the brawl started when Pioneer assistant Vince Wortmann struck him in the back. Wortmann has since been fired.
That claim contradicts statements made by Test, who claimed he was pushed by Gildersleeve. The referee’s report of the game, released Monday, describes Gildersleeve pushing Test during the postgame handshake.
Gildersleeve repeatedly makes his claim that he did not push Test in the days following the event, and implores Ann Arbor Public Schools and Ann Arbor Education Association administrators -- including AAEA president Linda Carter, teacher's union vice president Fred Klein, AAPS vice president of human resources and legal services David Comsa and Huron principal Arthur Williams -- to release a statement on his behalf.
“I need some help here. I need my name cleared as soon as possible,” Gildersleeve writes.
Gildersleeve claims media reports, including those published by AnnArbor.com, cite him as the cause of the fight.
“This is absolutely false,” Gildersleeve writes. “It is a defamation of my character and it is getting worse because the district has not released any type of information from their investigation that tells the true facts of what happened on the field.”
Gildersleeve goes on to write that the reports have affected his family, including his parents, wife and children, and damaged “my reputation as a coach, professional educator and person.”
He also states plans to press charges against Wortmann, as well as file a defamation of character lawsuit against "anyone that is and/or has falsely reported this story doing me harm."
Gildersleeve also sent a letter of apology to Huron staff members and the football program, and emailed his assistant coaches a plan to meet with players, take responsibility and discuss how it could have been handled better.