• 54°

Pickerington girls#039; coach suspended for 4 games

PICKERINGTON -- A high school girls basketball coach who has won six state championships since 1985 has been suspended for four games this season after being accused of misconduct, including being drunk in front of players and inappropriate physical contact.

Former players and their parents also have accused Pickerington High School coach Dave Butcher of drinking at out-of-town events and verbal abuse.

Butcher, 47, admitted drinking beer while accompanying his team on trips to out-of-state summer camps and tournaments but denied other allegations.

Butcher agreed to the suspension and other changes in his program after school officials in this Columbus suburb investigated the charges over the summer.

The investigation ''did not establish misconduct other than the improper consumption of alcohol on Mr. Butcher's part,'' according to a news release issued by the district Tuesday.

''Mr. Butcher has agreed to address these behaviors in a productive fashion, and the district has directed modifications to the basketball program to ensure adequate and appropriate supervision at all times,'' the release said.

Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday for Butcher, school officials and Emily Lewis, Butcher's attorney.

Other changes to the program include opening practices to parents and others, no out-of-state team trips and assigning a female adult to participate in team activities.

The district's investigation began after Mark and Sue McEvoy told school officials that Butcher had inappropriate physical contact with their daughter Katlyn on a water slide in North Carolina in 2001.

Katlyn, then 16, said Butcher stared at her breasts and wrapped his legs around her waist while pulling her back toward him on an inner-tube-style water slide, according to a complaint the family filed with the district. Katlyn, now 17, has transferred to another school.

In a letter Oct. 17, Butcher told school officials that any contact was incidental and that the distance between the joined inner tubes made it impossible for him to wrap his legs around Katlyn. ''At no time did I act in a sexual way towards any players,'' he said.

Mark McEvoy said he is disappointed with the district's response.

''This is not enough,'' McEvoy said Tuesday. ''He should be out of coaching. I feel they just threw out a bone to try to get out from underneath it.''

McEvoy said the school didn't thoroughly investigate the inappropriate touching complaint against Butcher.

''If this is about drinking and not inappropriate touching of the girls, then why are they having a female administrator present at all times?''