Top school settles with fired coach

2013-09-10 00:00

THE former head of cricket at St Charles College, Bruce Roberts, who was dismissed allegedly for speaking out about the removal of the school’s first team cricket captain earlier this year, has reached a settlement with the school.

Roberts told The Witness that the terms of the settlement — which was agreed on during arbitration — are confidential, adding that he was “entirely satisfied with how the matter has been resolved”.

Following the settlement at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), Roberts said he was “relieved” to put his experience as head of cricket at SCC behind him and was looking forward to the next chapter in his life.

He said he will be involved in private coaching, as well as in cricket development “focusing on cricket upliftment and skills transfer to the many disadvantaged communities in and around Pietermaritzburg”.

Roberts told The Witness that he had been approached recently “by an independent person appointed by SCC” to further investigate the issue concerning the dropping of a pupil as captain of the 1st XI to the 2nd XI.

However, given his experiences as the head of cricket at SCC and “particularly being sidelined in any consultations over the 1st XI”, he decided “not to add legitimacy to the investigation” and not to play any part in the investigation whatsoever, he said.

The row over the decision to drop the 17-year-old 1st XI cricket captain came to light in May this year when the pupil’s father filed an application in the Pietermaritzburg high court asking the court to reinstate his son as captain. He blamed cricket coach Dave Karlsen for “ruining” his son’s cricket career.

The court case was put on hold during attempts to settle the dispute, but talks failed and the case was reinstated in the high court.

There is no date set for the hearing, however.

The school has filed opposing papers in the case.

One of the points taken by the school is that the court does not have the power to intervene as the appointment or removal of captain of a sporting team is a matter of “internal governance”.

School principal Allen van Blerk also alleges in papers that the ultimate decision to “drop” the pupil concerned was made by a school selection committee due to a laspse in his form.

It is alleged that between October 2 last year and January 12 this year he scored 17 runs in seven games.

Roberts, who was employed as the head of cricket at SCC in June 2012 on a three-year contract, was dismissed on June 10 this year following a disciplinary inquiry at which he was charged with “gross misconduct” for sending an e-mail to the father of the pupil at the centre of the dispute and offering “advice” about the dispute.

Roberts complained that he was “kept in the dark” about the proceedings, even when KZN Inland Cricket became involved (as mediators).

He said he believed he could have assisted in resolving the matter amicably.

In a brief statement issued yesterday, Van Blerk said he was “pleased” that the dispute between Roberts and St Charles College had been settled in the CCMA.

“We are obliged to maintain confidentiality in this matter and we wish Mr Roberts well in his future endeavours,” he said.

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