Around the start of the semester two contributing members of the Keene State College community, specifically the athletic community, were released from their duties. These two people are Pete Thomas, men and women’s cross country coach and Charlie Beach, softball coach. Thomas was given administrative leave with pay while Beach’s annual contract was not renewed. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why?” And so are we. The administration has chosen not only to prevent these coaches from returning but also to prevent the students from receiving even a general answer as to why.

It is unlikely that these two coaches were suspended or released because of their inability to produce winning sports teams, which only makes the choice to relieve them of their positions more curious.

Thomas, an alumnus from the Class of 1977, has produced countless All-Americans and Little East Conference (LEC) Championships. Several of his players were awarded with individual honors. He coached over twenty-five seasons of cross country and led his women athletes to win ten-consecutive LEC Championships during his coaching career. Thomas was even awarded LEC Coach of the Year for both the men’s and women’s cross country teams back in 2010.

Beach was also a successful member of the Athletic Department. This year would have been his thirtieth year of coaching at KSC and he was only 13 games away from reaching a total of 700 victories. Just this year, Beach led the women’s softball team to win its fifth LEC title.

With such extraordinary accomplishments and bright seasons ahead of them, we find it impossible not to question the reasons for the non-renewal of Beach and the suspension of Thomas.

With the history of Eugene “Gino” Vallante, a once-active member of the KSC athletic community and other programs on campus, who was terminated due to allegations of inappropriate behavior last semester still fresh in our minds, we can’t help but feel it is time we get some answers. The student body has still not been given sufficient information regarding Vallante’s investigation which has been ongoing for more than six months.

Although KSC has updated its sexual-misconduct policy in the Student Athlete Handbook, the handbook policy still only includes vague statements on resources for support without direct contact information. For example, the information lacks names or phone numbers.

According to an editorial piece written by The Sentinel, KSC spokeswoman Kelly Ricaurte said, “The college has revisited its Student Handbook and is training coaches and athletes to highlight venues for reporting concerns about conduct.”  Despite the effort in updating the policy and meeting with athletic teams, we still feel it is not enough.

Photo Illustration by Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor

Photo Illustration by Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor

The entire KSC and Keene community deserves to know the answers to the many questions regarding the termination of these KSC employees. Additionally, we need to be told these answers in a timely manner. We do not know if the suspension and non-renewal of Thomas and Beach is related in any way to the termination of Vallante, but  all three seem to have one thing in common: the administration is not providing general reasons.

Equinox Executive Board members appreciated the opportunity to interview President Anne Huot regarding the loss of Thomas’s and Beach’s positions on campus as well as the ongoing investigation of the termination of Vallante. Many of the interview questions asked of Huot were answered with responses stating that she could not disclose personnel information. We understand Thomas is part of an ongoing investigation but not what the subject of the investigation is. We also understand that legally, information cannot be given about personnel decisions, but it would be reasonable to have a general explanation why.

We feel that the student body as well as the staff have a right to know the general reasons for the leave of absence and non-renewal of these coaches. The students need answers more than anyone because the students are the ones who form bonds with their coaches and their tuition and fees pay for a portion of the salaries of these coaches.

Students and staff make up the community here at KSC and with two contributing, hard-working and dedicated members of that community suddenly gone without an explanation, we cannot help but ask why. And as a result, students are left confused and frustrated by the decision to withhold exactly what the students want and need —answers.

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