Former Minden High School boys basketball coach Alan Shaw is breaking his six-month silence on the events that led to his removal from the position.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Shaw voiced his regret for the actions that led to his suspension; displeasure with the way Webster Parish superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dan Rawls handled the matter and reflections from his 25-year career as head coach of the Crimson Tide.
“I made a mistake,” Shaw said. “I admitted to it and the LHSAA came down with their ruling (one-year suspension). I feel like I gave Minden High basketball everything I had for the last quarter of a century, and I feel like I did it with some success.”
Shaw won over 500 games as head coach of the Tide and went to the Top 28 twice. The Tide’s most recent, significant triumph was winning the 2014-15 Minden Holiday Classic.
“What I’m most proud of are the players that I coached,” Shaw said. “Their success on and off the court is what I care about. I appreciate the parents and fans that supported us over the years. A lot of people have had my back, not just now, but over the years, through the good times and bad. There will always be a place in my heart for Minden High basketball. I’m very sad that it’s ended the way it has.”
Shaw, who is still on staff at the school as a counselor, last coached the team in a Jan. 5 contest against Lakeside, and news of his suspension broke on Feb. 17. During that time, Shaw’s absence was a topic of interest at Minden games and throughout the community. The suspension came as a result of a tournament gone wrong.
The Minden Holiday Classic — one of the state’s largest basketball tournaments and a major fundraiser for the school — was right around the corner. The principal of a participating school noticed a scheduling error that would require their school, and one other school, to play five games in the tournament, should they reach the tournament final or consolation final.
Teams shall be limited to four games in a tournament, including out-of-state events, according to LHSAA rule 11.2.3 (4).
The day before the tournament began, Shaw forwarded an email to that principal which appeared to come from LHSAA investigator Keith Alexander. The email in question stated that LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine had granted Minden a one-year exemption from the rule, however, it was later discovered that Shaw had fabricated the email, leading to his suspension.
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of the nearly seven-month saga is the lack of communication between Shaw and Rawls, the man who controls his fate.
“Honestly, I was never formally dismissed by the superintendent because he won’t meet with me,” Shaw said. “Everything that’s happened has come to me through the personnel director. I met with him (Rawls) one time in January. I requested to meet with him one-on-one several times and I can’t even get a call back from him. People have asked me what’s going on a lot, and I tell them to check with your superintendent, because he never reached out to me once.”
When reached for comment Wednesday, Rawls said he had not heard from Shaw at all, but stated he has an “Open Door Policy” for anyone.
Shaw had hoped his two and a half decades of service to Minden High School and the Webster Parish School board would earn him grace in the fallout from the lone, dark spot on his storied career, but none was given.
“I ran my program the right way for 25 years without so much as an eligibility issue,” Shaw said. “I’ve been loyal to Minden High and Webster Parish, and what I’ve learned through this process is that loyalty only goes one way. Loyalty to the Webster Parish School Board is not reciprocal.”
Shaw said he tried to contact Rawls three times over the phone and left several messages without a reply. Additionally, Shaw said he has an option to appeal the one-year suspension and have it reduced, but cannot do so without going through Rawls.
Shaw claims when he expressed interest in an appeal he was told the Superintendent would not allow that. Shaw expanded on his feelings, citing his work with past superintendents.
“I’ve been through and worked with several superintendents, and I can’t imagine Butch Williams, Richard Noles or Jerry Lott would have handled this situation the way it’s been handled,” he said.
At the end of the day, Shaw says he’s fine if he’s never allowed to coach again, but he would like to hear why and in person.
“I just feel like, after 25 years of loyalty, I at least deserve the decency to be told face-to-face from the person who’s my judge, jury and executioner,” Shaw said. “Through this whole process, I’ve had great support from my principal, Mrs. Robin Tucker, my personnel director, our teachers, our other coaches, parents, current and former players. The one person I can’t get a word out of is making all the decisions.”
Shaw says, for now, he’ll try and move on with life and focus on family.
“Coaching is not even on my radar right now,” Shaw said. “My boys play on a travel home-school team. I’m going to go watch them as much as I can and enjoy them. They’re my priority.”
The former leader of the Tide expressed support for his successor, Rennie Bailey, who was hired as the new boys basketball coach at Minden earlier this week.
“I’ve known Rennie a long time and we’ve always had a good relationship,” Shaw said. “I wish him well. I know that he’ll do a good job and be a wonderful asset to the school and to the community.”
Shaw didn’t rule out a coaching return, but it likely won’t be in 2016-17 season.
“Who knows,” Shaw said. “If the right opportunity came along, it felt like the right time and it was where God wanted me to be, I would certainly look into, to say the least. But you know, I’ve been doing this for 25 years, maybe it was time to move on from Minden and have a new beginning.”