Ousted Kearney High girls basketball coach starts process of expected defamation suit
KEARNEY, Neb. — The saga surrounding the dismissal of the Kearney High girls basketball coach is moving from the hardwood to the courtroom.
Former Bearcats head coach J.D. Carson filed a civil complaint in Buffalo County District Court on Wednesday alleging defamation. Carson’s attorneys have asked a judge to order depositions to help them to know who they should name as defendants in a lawsuit.
Court documents say Carson expects Amber Garner of Kearney to be an adverse party in the defamation suit. Garner is a second-grade teacher in Kearney Public Schools and the parent of a player on the basketball team.
Carson’s attorneys requested depositions with Superintendent Jason Mundorf and Kearney High principal Jeff Ganz. A district court judge will hear his petition for depositions at a court hearing on January 26.
Carson resigned as girls basketball head coach on Nov. 13, which was the first day of practice. The news release said it was for “personal reasons”, but Carson disputed that when speaking to the school board on Dec. 11. He said he was forced to resign as part of a “tactical witch hunt.” Six parents of basketball players also spoke at the meeting. They supported the former coach and criticized the district for how it interviewed players during an investigation into Carson.
Mundorf responded with a statement two days after the board meeting. He defended Ganz’s decision to recommend that Carson resign. He said the most serious allegation of misconduct against Carson concerned “a flirtatious relationship and preferential treatment of a specific player.” Mundorf also said Carson acted unprofessionally in other circumstances, including fishing for compliments from players, possibly singing a sexually-suggestive song on a team van ride, handing out an award for the player who got the most SnapChat numbers from guys on a road trip and taking a selfie with players who were wearing bikinis. The statement said multiple players signed affidavits saying the allegations were true.
Thursday’s court filing says Carson’s attorneys hope to ask Mundorf who brought the allegations against Carson to school administration and what the allegations were. The document says Ganz cited a report accusing Carson of having a potentially inappropriate relationship with a specific player when questioning other students. Carson’s attorneys want to ask him who made that report. The filing says they are requesting the depositions in order to sue the correct people.
Carson is still working as a social studies teacher at Kearney High. Chris Pocock is serving as interim head coach for the girls basketball team.