DIAMOND — The Diamond R-4 Board of Education formally accepted the resignations of two coaches during open session Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, a group of about 40 parents, players and other Diamond students met with the school board during a closed session Tuesday to discuss why Coach Brian Brimacombe and Coach Brent Jordan were, in effect, forced to resign. Brimacombe coaches girls basketball and softball for the district, while Jordan is Diamond's track and cross country coach.
However, while members of the public were allowed into the session, four members of three area news outlets — The Neosho Daily News, The Newton County News and The Joplin Globe — were not. Diamond officials and board members offered no comment on the issue after the meeting was over.
The Daily News has filed a Sunshine Law violation complaint with the Missouri Attorney General's office.
Sheila Littlefield, a teacher at Diamond Elementary, was one of the ones who spoke to the board during the closed session in support of the coaches. Littlefield talked to reporters after the session, saying she had contacted a number of parents before Wednesday's meeting, the majority of whom were in support of the coaches.
"There were a couple in basketball who were upset about playing time, but other than that, nothing major had happened, there wasn't anything that was deliberate because as far as playing time is concerned, [Brimacombe] always made sure that he had five girls as a team on the court at any given time and the girls that didn't get playing time would have experienced the same thing with another coach."
Littlefield said board members told her they had received a number of telephone calls regarding Brimacombe's record this season. The Diamond Lady Wildcats were 14-12 for the season.
"There were concerns that even though he had a winning record, [the board] didn't feel like they had won enough games," Littlefield said. "There was some concern that Coach B. couldn't help them grow and improve as a team. That was some concern, but it has never been brought up before."
Littlefield said the squad had a tough schedule this year, suffering losses to bigger schools such as Lamar, Neosho, Willard and Morrisville.
"You're talking about larger schools in our schedule that we have to challenge the girls, and make them get better," she said. "Look at our district, those are all bigger schools. The more parents I talked to, the more I realized the majority were happy with Coach B and the same with Coach Jordan."
She said she talked with nine out of 10 families of students who run cross country, and all were satisfied with Jordan's coaching as well.
Carolyn Million said she came to Diamond's board meeting Wednesday in support of her granddaughter, Hanna Million, and her coach, Brimacombe.
Page 2 of 2 - "She's not pleased with the decision, especially since we've been with him for all of these years," Million said. "She's going into her senior year and now we have to break in a new coach.
"I know there are plenty of people here in support of Coach B and probably here in support of Coach Jordan, too. We all know Coach B has good morals and that the girls are safe with him wherever they go. There are more important things than winning a game."
Million said some parents had concerns their child was not getting enough playing time under Brimacombe.
"He plays all the girls more so than other coaches would," she said. "My understanding is the ones who voiced concerns are the parents of freshmen girls wanting to play varsity ball. The primary reason freshmen get to play at the varsity level in Diamond in the first place is numbers — there just aren't that many who go out for sports."
In all, Diamond officials have put 13 coaching positions on the block, according to the district's web site. These coaches serve from the middle school to the senior high level.