East St. Louis High School basketball coach Tony Young has been placed on paid administrative leave as District 189 investigates allegations he verbally abused his players and told his team to intentionally injure an opposing player.
The alleged halftime rant was captured on a smart phone video and posted online to YouTube, though it has since been taken down.
Hank Harris has been named the interim coach until the investigation into the alleged incident is completed, said Kim Roberson, spokeswoman for the district.
District officials and Young have yet to return calls for comment on the situation. The district did, however, issue a release acknowledging only that Young has been suspended and that Harris would fill in during “an internal review regarding this situation.”
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The Flyers (13-5) are in the midst of one of their finest seasons in recent years. They are seventh in the latest Class 4A state rankings and No. 1 in the Belleville News-Democrat large school poll, also leading the Southwestern Conference with an 8-0 league mark.
Young, a former all-Missouri Valley Conference first team player at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is in his third season at East Side.
Young, 30, has been complimented by rival Southwestern Conference coaches for the organization he has brought to the Flyers. He came to East Side in 2012 after serving on the late Rick Majerus’ staff at St. Louis University. Young replaced Ray Coleman, who had been dismissed.
Young, a graduate of Schaumburg High School, is 54-22 at East Side, whose first game without Young on the bench will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday against visiting Belleville East.
Young made headlines at the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic on Dec. 30 when he missed the first half of the Flyers’ 58-45 victory over Quincy. After the game, Young said he “had some personal business to take care of.”
“That’s part of being a family man,” he said that day. “I had coaches to cover for me, to make sure we got started off in the right way. It was nothing more, nothing less.
“I’m sure the rumor mill will start: ‘I probably got fired. I was watching film.’ There were some things I had to do.”
Harris, an East St. Louis native, has been an assistant coach at South Carolina. He also has coached at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan., and at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kan.
Harris also is credited with resurrecting the program at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan., after a 20-year period of dormancy. Harris’ experience includes time as an assistant at Kansas State, Western Kentucky and Eastern Illinois.