UPDATE: Pilot Grove Superintendent Makes Statement about Fired Coach
PILOT GROVE - Pilot Grove Superintendent DJ Leverton told KOMU Friday he cannot release the reason for the firing of the high school's head boys basketball coach, Rick Grunden. However, Leverton did say Grunden will remain a "valued member of the Pilot Grove staff."
Leverton's statement comes after Monday's Pilot Grove C-4 Board of Education meeting where members voted 4-3 to not renew Coach Grunden's contract.
Since hearing the news, residents around the Pilot Grove community have reacted to the announcement, with many speaking out on social media.
Former students KOMU talked to Friday said they, along with a majority of the community, were shocked to hear the news and described Grunden as a successful, trustworthy, knowledgeable, respected, and well-liked coach.
Grunden was the school's head boy's basketball coach for the past nine seasons. In that time, he won four district championships and led the team to its first state championship appearance in 2010.
A former team member started an online petition to overturn the board's decision. However, Superintendent Leverton said the petition would have no effect on the board's decision.
Former player Colby Kraus was on Pilot Grove's basketball team the year Grunden lead the team to its first final four appearance in school history. Even though the team lost in the final championship game, Kraus told KOMU, that teammates focused on the fact that "As a whole, we were much stronger and made it further than we ever could have known. Coach Grunden made us feel more like a family than a team. He taught us the importance of hard work and persevering through difficult times."