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Live blog from Williamsville Board of Education meeting; eight Monaco supporters speak, as does accuser Sanford

Hello from tonight's Williamsville School Board meeting.

Live blog below:

A total of nine people spoke.

Eight of them were clear supporters of Monaco, and they were from a widespread group: former recent player, former player from the 70s, golf acquaintance, longtime supporter of Will South basketball program, basketball official whose son played for Monaco (Steve Allen), former Buffalo Public Schools Athletic Director Dave Thomas, Western New York Basketball Officials Association president Benji Bluman and his sister.  

The exception was Marvin Sanford, who spoke to The News about being the parent who lodged the police complaint regarding Monaco. 

Sanford said residents "may have been receiving mistruths about certain things, so I was here hopefully to set the record straight." However, other than perhaps his claim that he and his family did not complain about playing time, no new real information was shared by Sanford.

Sanford, a Buffalo Police officer, also said that the Amherst Police investigation, is "not closed. It is currently open. My wife and I have to meet with our attorney this week, and speaking to the detective, she found that there was evidence to move forward should we decide."

Here is what The News reported Aug. 28 regarding the Amherst police aspect of this case:

Williamsville South High School basketball coach Al Monaco was removed from his coaching job a few days after the Amherst Police Department shared with the school district its investigation of student harassment complaints filed against him, police said Monday.

Police looked into the complaints in June and closed the case last week without filing charges. But by Friday, Monaco's 24-year tenure as a South High School coach was over.

"After our investigation was complete, we briefed them on the details on the information we had gathered," said Police Chief John Askey.

...

Monaco's defenders also said there's been tension on the team between students getting more playing time than others, and the parents of players who saw little court action were behind the harassment complaint to police in June.

Askey said several parents of students accused Monaco of verbally harassing their children during the course of his coaching duties.

When police investigated, only two of the allegations by parents of 15-year-old players appeared to merit further investigation, he said.

"We investigated the complaints and in the end, the parents did not want to prosecute for any of those comments or behaviors," he said. "It was minor harassment in nature to begin with, and they chose not to prosecute."

Investigators spoke with parents, students and Monaco and heard differing versions of what was said and how it was said, Askey said. Even if every allegation been substantiated, he added, the matter would have amounted to a harassment violation at most, not a misdemeanor.

Here are Sanford's complete remarks: 

"What I wanted to speak about tonight ... I felt as though residents of the town of Williamsville wanted to know ... maybe they have received mistruths about certain things ... so I was here to hopefully set record straight ...

"First and foremost, my wife, myself, and my son, never have we complained about playing time for our son, it's never has been us.

"We also would like to let anybody know -- I heard a prior speaker -- the Amherst Police investigation was not closed. It is currently open. My wife and I have to meet with our attorney this week, and in speaking to the detective, she found that there was evidence to move forward should we decide. And we will then do so, if that's the case, if it's best for us and our son. 

"Secondly, I hear a lot of people speaking about Coach Monaco. And it's not up to me, or my wife or anybody else to come here to dog the man or degrade him or speak negatively against any experience that they have had with him or their son or their family has had with him.  

"But I would also like the board, and anyone who cares to know, about my son Joseph.

"My son received the coach's award on Williamsville South junior varsity basketball team. He's received the sportsmanship award from the University at Buffalo.

"The reason why I bring this up is because it is important to me. He may not have been the most valuable player. He wasn't in the three-point shooting contest. But because of our son and the way he's been raised, not just my wife and I taking credit for it, but his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, family members prior to that ... 

"We really hold those awards dear to us because that speaks volumes about my son.

"His teachers, including his coaches, including the athletic director, Mr. [Kevin] Lester, who commented to me before one of the junior varsity basketball games last year on how my son, along with my older son, that it was a pleasure to know them. They were well-behaved kids and it was his experience that they were good kids. Truth be told, they don't have any choice.

"Last but not least, I wanted to personally thank the Amherst Police Department, the School Board, and the superintendent. Because you are praised sometimes, but you make tough decisions and sometimes people want to get on you. But I thank you for conducting a thorough investigation in this matter ... and then deciding accordingly. Have a good evening." 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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