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Alaska News

Fairbanks school district suspends West Valley ski coach

  • Author: Associated Press
  • Updated: November 16, 2019
  • Published November 16, 2019

FAIRBANKS — An Alaska high school skiing head coach was suspended Friday after school officials discovered allegations were made against him in a domestic violence protective order petition, school district officials said.

The ex-girlfriend of West Valley High School coach Nick Crawford requested a renewal last week for a one-year protection order she obtained in November 2018 citing continued safety concerns, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Friday.

The ex-girlfriend accused Crawford of sexual misconduct while she was incapacitated at his home in October 2018, court documents said. They were both employed at the University of Fairbanks at the time, officials said — Crawford was the school’s head coach for skiing and cross country running.

“We were notified earlier today about a potential issue. He has been suspended pending contact with UAF to get more details regarding the situation,” school district spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch said. “The team and parents have been notified that he will not be there (for time trials) this weekend.”

Crawford coached the UAF cross-country running and ski programs from 2015 until earlier this year, officials said. He was placed on administrative leave a year ago and a Title IX investigation is ongoing, university officials said. As of Friday, he was still listed on the university website as coach, the newspaper reported.

University spokeswoman Marmian Grimes declined to give details about personnel issues but said the university evaluates all reports of sexual misconduct.

“The first step is to look at the information we have and assess any potential safety concerns and make sure we take steps to provide a safe environment for our employees, students and the public,” Grimes said.

The suspension was due to “an unresolved Title IX investigation that they said would be over in 60 days. It’s not been completed in 60 days, and that’s why the school district is now waiting, too, because they’re waiting on UAF,” Crawford said Friday. “I passed the background check no problem.”

It was unclear if a background check was done on Crawford, McCulloch said.

In response to the protective order petition request, Crawford’s attorney asked that the hearing be rescheduled and that public access to the hearing be limited. A judge approved the request and a closed hearing was scheduled for Dec. 11, court officials said.

Crawford was named the head coach and skier development director for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks in September but his status with the organization is currently unknown, the newspaper reported. Club president Chris Puchner had no comment when contacted by the Daily News-Miner on Friday.

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