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Coach suspended after comments to players caught on tape

Published: Oct. 22, 2014 at 11:20 PM EDT|Updated: Dec. 7, 2014 at 12:28 AM EST
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John Wright (Source: WAVE 3 News)
John Wright (Source: WAVE 3 News)

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) – Hours after learning Alex Shearer had been suspended as coach of the John Hardin High School boys soccer team, players' parents were wondering why.

"It is a big deal," parent Tressa Suvilich said Tuesday. "I mean these kids, some of these kids, that's gonna be a career, that's gonna be their ticket to college."

"They owe an explanation as to what's going on," Keith George, a parent of another player, said.

Their answers came Wednesday, when Hardin County Schools released an audiotape district spokesman John Wright said forced Principal Lynne Gibson's decision.

The tape was recorded by a Central Hardin High school supporter during halftime of Central Hardin's match with John Hardin the preceding Friday.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Hardin County soccer coach suspended over 'unacceptable behavior']

But more than profanity warranted Shearer's suspension, Wright said.

"He's telling his players to hurt (Central Hardin's players)," Wright said.

The district redacted the player's name in the copy of the tape released to WAVE 3 News through an Open Record Request. But the voice identified as Shearer's appeared to praise one play that left a member of Central Hardin's team on the ground, and to urge John Hardin players to take what district officials considered to be cheap shots.

Shearer may not be on the sidelines when John Hardin and Central Hardin meet in a rematch for the regional title Thursday, but he remains a faculty member at John Hardin High, where the district hired him to teach math seven years ago.

"This investigation is for soccer only," Wright said. "It's for something that happened on the soccer field only."

This isn't the first time Shearer has been disciplined by a school system. Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board suspended his teaching certificate from 1998 to 2003. According to the Kentucky New Era newspaper, an investigative tribunal concluded that Shearer had engaged in sexual activity with a 17-year-old female student while serving as a teacher and coach in Hopkinsville.

"He (Shearer) had a valid teaching certificate when he was hired and his conduct since then has not been questioned," Wright said.

"It's really hard to remove a teacher if they have tenure," Wright said. "But again, that's not up for debate here. Mr. Shearer's an excellent teacher and will remain on our classroom."

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