Ohio high school sports: How far is too far for a high school coach?

CINCINNATI - How far is too far when it comes to motivating high school athletes on the field and in practice?

That is the question being raised by some parents at Anderson High School near Cincinnati after the Forest Hills Board of Education dismissed allegations of misconduct by one of its varsity soccer coaches.

In a letter addressed to the school board, John P. Concannon with the law firm of Freking & Betz representing parents, expressed dismay that the district rehired girls' varsity soccer coach Bil Miller after allegations surfaced that he verbally abused and bullied players last season.

"The response of the board was to rehire him after we brought all this to their attention," Concannon said.

Concannon outlined allegations that Miller called players derogatory names during practice, screamed in a player's face, instructed girls to not share the goings on of the team, and that he told players he should have "decked" a parent in the face for getting involved in the team's business.

In all, Concannon stated 15 players and 15 parents came forward to the school board in May of last school year with their concern that Miller's behavior became bullying and harmful.

On Wednesday Aug. 28, the Forest Hills Local School District released a statement that a third party investigated parents' complaints they received in January.

That investigation against Miller revealed, according to the board that Miller "on a few occasions, utilized profanity in his coaching duties. This inappropriate language did not appear to be directed at any particular individual(s), nor was it deemed to be intentionally abusive in nature."

In addition, the board's investigation determined that Miller's language was "uttered in the heat of the moment during the course of his coaching."

Without going into detail the board stated they fully reviewed and discussed the findings of the investigation, and that corrective measures were taken.

In his own words, according to documents quoted by Concannon in his letter to the board, Miller stated, "the language I used is consistent with the sports activities which I coach – and is no more or less offensive than the language all of us are used to in our daily lives."

When called, the school board said they had nothing to add beyond the statement released.

On Wednesday, Miller was on the field at Anderson High School coaching his varsity team. Miller has been a coach for 26 years.

Concannon stated Miller went beyond the characterization given by the school board in their letter.

"Mr. Miller, according to at least fifteen players, was foul-mouthed, sexist, intimidating, bullying and demeaning towards his team," Concannon wrote. "He made many of these teenage girls ‘feel worthless.' The Administration is clearly calling these girls liars."

"You can do better than Bil Miller. Please find a new coach," Concannon stated at the end of his letter to the school board.

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