A historic District 150 event

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Ejecting a coach or player from a basketball game rarely happens. But, it does happen. When a player is removed it’s because of a flagrant foul or unacceptable behavior. A coach is gone when he receives a second technical foul. As a former sports announcer and long-time fan, I’ve never heard of the ejection of a referee. It has happened.

It happened last December during a game between Harrison and Mark Bills grade schools in Peoria. Referee Quan Chaney, with over 20 years of officiating basketball, was thrown out of the game after three quarters by of all people, District 150 superintendent Grenita Lathan.

“Oh my goodness,” you say. “Not her again!” Yes, her again. Another chapter in the series, “As The District 150 World Turns.” What did Chaney do? Swear? No. Did he bet on a game with Pete Rose or Al Capone? No. What then merited his dismissal? Apparently, he turned his
back on superintendent Lathan and she didn’t like that. Here are the details of the latest Lathan episode as told by Quan Chaney.

Like other officials, Chaney received a memo from Mike Barber. Barber is principal at Rolling Acres and handles assignments of officials. His memo, claims Chaney, stated all games are to start on time including the contest slated for 3:30. Rumors were floating that the Harrison team frequently arrives late.

Since the officials had another game to do, the 4:15 arrival time by Harrison put their arrival
for the next event in jeopardy. Referee Chaney told the Harrison coach his players had a minute
to get dressed and on the floor. Further, Chaney said there would be a “running clock” for the first half to make up for the lost time. Superintendent Lathan and her husband were in
the stands to watch their daughter perform cheerleading for Mark Bills. Apparently, she became aware of the discord and decided to interfere, interrupt, and/or get involved. So she climbed out of the stands, crossed the basketball center court and approached referee Chaney.
Not knowing who she was, though that should not have made any difference, Chaney dismissed her believing she was just another complaining parent. So he turned his back and walked away.

With that she identified herself quite loudly, “Don’t you turn your back on me. I’m
superintendent of District 150.” But he did. Referees are in charge and Chaney did what he has been doing for two decades.

He started the game and it continued for three quarters. Then it really got interesting.
Before the start of the final quarter, Mike Barber, under orders from Lathan we suspect, told Chaney he had to tell Lathan he was sorry or he would be removed from
refereeing the game and further, he would never officiate another District 150 game. Chaney left
without the basketball or saying or singing the Brenda Lee song, “I’m Sorry.”

So Lathan has struck again as she did with John Wetterauer, district security
officers, and who knows who else.

Meanwhile, Harrison coach Kevin Causley, in his second year of coaching, had a
different version of the incident. In a Facebook entry, Causley accuses Chaney of lying, saying, “Not only do I question the integrity of Mr. Chaney and his intent behind such an email (Chaney’s account of the episode), I also question the integrity of the Change 150 organization by supporting such baseless claims. I can say she acted and responded in a professional manner despite the outright display of disrespect.”

Questions about the unfortunate incident remain unanswered by Causley, Barber,
and Lathan, such as why did the superintendent feel she had the right or the need to come
out of the stands to find out what was going on?

Why wasn’t there an attempt to resolve the matter privately off court? If Ms. Lathan was so angry, why did she wait to fire the referee after three quarters? Does she have such
authority? Should she have been evicted from the gym for interfering? Was her action legal and/or ethical? And why isn’t the district a member of the Illinois Elementary
School Association that could investigate what happened?

The larger question is will the school board demand an explanation for her behavior and
issue a reprimand. Personally, I think Ms. Lathan’s management style and apparent
explosive personality are inappropriate and a leadership change is needed. With another important school board election on the horizon, voters need ask only one question
of the candidates. That question is, “Do you believe a new superintendent is needed? In
the last board election, Laura Petelle said no and she lost by close to 70 percent to an empty chair.

 MORE QUESTIONS ELSEWHERE
Is Bradley University president Joanne Glasser on the way out? Rumors are increasing on and
off the Hilltop campus that some trustees believe change is needed there, too. Dr. Gene Sidler, a Bradley graduate and host of the web site, bradleyfans.com, commented on
WAZU’s “Breakfast with Royce and Roger,” that discussions were allegedly taking place
to remove Glasser. If it happens, he said, Ray LaHood will be the new president.
Another source claims the stumbling block for the change is a “buy out” provision in her
contract. There’s been no confirmation directly or indirectly from anyone at Bradley.

Not surprisingly, the Peoria Journal and local electronic media will not touch this
story with the proverbial 10 foot pole. Reportedly, trustees have been hearing from long-time alumni about the pathetic performances of not only men’s basketball, but baseball teams, women’s basketball, and volleyball. Nothing to cheer about.

Speaking of contracts, most observers with legal knowledge were not surprised Ohio courts ruled Bradley coach Gino Ford must pay $1.2 million in damages to Kent State University.
And we also heard that the first eight applicants for the open basketball coaching position pulled
out of consideration after having Hilltop interviews.

Ford didn’t. By the way, Jim Les, fired by Glasser, is now 14-3 at University of California, Davis, and 4-0 in the Big West Conference. The Aggies are also rated the 25th best mid-major team
in the nation. His leading players include Corey Hawkins, son of Bradley legend Hersey Hawkins, and Jim’s son, Tyler. I remember watching Tyler as a little boy, shooting baskets at half-time at Bradley games. Gosh with Tyler and Corey how good would the Braves be today…with Les as coach.

HOT AND HOTTER

A lot of people were angry when about one hour before he left office, Governor Pat Quinn gave a pardon to killer Johnny Lee Savory. State’s attorney Jerry Brady was hot about not only the decision but how it was made. Quinn failed to notify anyone in Peoria from families of the two victims brutally murdered in 1977 to Brady and other law enforcement agencies. No one can figure why Quinn gave the pardon. Former Peoria County state’s attorney and now Judge, Kevin Lyons strongly opposed repeated attempts to parole Savory over the years. Rightly so. Savory was released after serving only 30 years for the gruesome murders.

I wish national and state legislators would pass a bill preventing pardons, paroles, hires, and other actions by presidents and governors in their last days of office. After November elections, no president or governor slated to leave office in January of the following year should be allowed any executive actions beyond signing or vetoing bills passed by state or federal legislatures…period!

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” —Ronald Reagan

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