A high school football coach in Spokane, Wash., has been suspended over an incident in which he allegedly exposed himself while grilling hot dogs during a team-building exercise. Jim Sharkey, the coach in question, repeatedly has denied the allegations, but the Spokesman-Review has obtained school records in which multiple people say the incident took place.
Last August, Sharkey took more than 40 of his Ferris High School players to a 1,000-acre camp near Cataldo, Idaho, ostensibly as a leadership exercise that he also had conducted in previous years. A few weeks after the camp, a player came forward to school officials to report that while Sharkey was grilling hot dogs, he turned around with his exposed penis in a hot dog bun and said, “You think that is a big dog — take a look at this.”
The school originally gave Sharkey a written reprimand after an initial investigation and he was allowed to coach the season, finishing 5-5. But according to the Spokesman-Review, he was placed on administrative leave (with pay) on Feb. 1 after more players came forward alleging that they had witnessed the incident and other students “brought up separate incidents of questionable behavior by the 11-year teacher and coach.”
— That the camp “hosts” consumed alcohol in front of the players. The land on which the team-building exercise was held is owned by the family of Bobby Brett, who is the majority owner of the Spokane Indians Class A baseball team and the Spokane Chiefs junior hockey team. Sharkey confirmed to school investigators that his players saw members of the Brett family drinking during one team dinner but denied that he and one of his assistants were drinking during the camp. The school found that “at least one camp ‘host’ had unsupervised access to students while under the influence of alcohol.”
— That Sharkey called a female student a “puck slut” or “puck bunny” because she was friends with the Chiefs hockey players who attended Ferris High. Sharkey confirmed that he said something along those lines but said during a meeting with school officials that the comment “was not meant to be inappropriate.”
— That Sharkey’s players would celebrate teammates’ birthdays by dog-piling on top of them and shoving their fingers up the player’s anus, which they called “juicing.” The player who lodged this allegation said no coaches were present for these incidents, the Spokesman-Review reports.
— That Sharkey called his players vulgar names and also shopped for U2 concert tickets during class (he also is a fitness and leadership teacher at Ferris). Ferris did not deny either of these allegations.
He’s denying everything else, though.
“This is a witch hunt,” Sharkey said, according to the school investigation materials obtained by the Spokesman-Review. “I do a lot for this school. It is going to be difficult to replace me at this time.
“This is my life — this is all I do.”