Coaching abuse allegations have been ‘discredited,’ says SMUS head

St. Michaels University School reassures parents changes have been made in light of 'discredited' allegations dating back to 2011

Allegations of bullying and verbal abuse by former athletes at St. Michaels University School (SMUS) dampened what should have been an unbridled celebration last Saturday, when SMUS won its first B.C. high school basketball boys AA Championship since 1992.

A joint report by the Toronto Star and CTV’s W5 released March 14 detailed complaints from 13 former student athletes at SMUS dating back to 2011. The students allege SMUS coaches from both boys and girls teams would use profane language and berate them in public, among other allegations.

SMUS Head of School Bob Snowden was not available for an interview on Monday, but in a March 16 letter to parents said the school saw “no purpose in answering allegations in the media that have been thoroughly and repeatedly investigated and discredited in four formal external processes.”

Snowden said allegations of bullying, verbal abuse and unfair allocation of playing time were referred to external investigations on four separate occasions in the past three years, and in each case no abuse was found to have taken place.

“These investigations have included an initial referral to the Saanich Police, a second review by the Ombudsman of B.C. Independent Schools, an investigation by John Sanderson, Q.C. – an independent investigator highly experienced in matters of abuse who was approved by all parties – and a comprehensive investigative process by the Teacher Regulation Branch, the government body responsible for the conduct of teachers,” Snowden said.

On Saturday, SMUS alumnus and NBA star Steve Nash tweeted his support for his former coach, Ian Hyde-Lay, one of the coaches accused of abuse by students in the Star report.

“Congrats to my high school SMUS and high school coach Ian Hyde-Lay for winning the BC AA Boys high school basketball championship! PROUD!” Nash tweeted.

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