Published: May 5, 2012
Rich Giesen says he wasn't given the chance to defend himself before becoming the shortest-tenured football coach in Colorado Springs history.
In 72 hours in late January, Giesen was hired by Vista Ridge, introduced to the team via Skype and had the offer rescinded.
The reason he said he was given by Vista Ridge principal Bruce Grose was that a hazing incident in Giesen’s past that surfaced via an Internet search had thrown up a red flag because Vista Ridge had dealt with a hazing situation.
He said the incident from his past was not accurately reported in the media – the same media report that, when found, caused Vista Ridge to backpedal. The Wolves instead hired Les Johnson, who served as the interim coach in 2011.
Frustrated without being given a chance to explain, Giesen called The Gazette to give his side of the incident, which he said was nothing more serious than “some guys horsing around in the locker room.”
While coaching at Field Kindley High School in Coffeyville, Kan., Giesen’s team was in the locker room before the coaches after a practice for a November 2009 playoff game.
“I heard them being real loud, hollering and screaming,” Giesen said. “I thought someone was fighting.”
Giesen said neither he nor his staff witnessed anything, but he said he was later told that juniors and seniors were “mooning each other, grabbing each other. Nobody’s butt was put in anybody’s face as was put in the newspaper and no parents ever complained.”
Giesen suspended five starters for the playoff opener. He said it was not a situation where younger or less talented players were targeted.
The principal was soon involved and the incident went before the school board, which, according to the Montgomery County Chronicle, voted 4-3 to terminate coaching positions for Giesen and assistant Jimmy Littleford. According to the Chronicle and Giesen, more than 100 people supported him at the meeting.
Giesen, who did not lose his teaching job, later took a job at Oklahoma Union because he needed the extra income provided by coaching.
Giesen blamed personal agendas on the school board and administration and said his career was without a blemish before the incident. He noted that Littleford was allowed to resume coaching this past year with the principal and superintendent gone.
Giesen, who is married and has three daughters, said he had to defend himself against public opinion and looked forward to moving to Colorado Springs for a fresh start.
That didn’t happen.