‘Brazen and unthinkable’: Details come to light behind resignation of Kelowna football coach

Details behind the sudden resignation of Okanagan Mission Secondary School’s (OKM) football coach Johannes Van Leenan are coming to light.

OKM staff received reports Van Leenan provided rewards, including monetary, to players whose presence would benefit the team. Accusations of undue influence arose in late December.

“Those concerns of undue influence related particularly to rewarding certain players for leadership and performance, particularly with things like expensive dinners and Coach offering payment to players for work that may or may not have occurred,” said OKM principal Derek Lea during a zoom meeting.

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An investigation was launched by the BC School of Sports after OKM reported the allegations. Read from the official ruling letter during the virtual football meeting.

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“Executive Director Jordan Abney, in that letter, described what was reported to him as one of the most brazen and unthinkable displays of complete disregard for the spirit of school and amateur sport that he’d ever seen,” said Lea.

OKM staff member Rob Steciuk added that the investigation also uncovered that Van Leenan allowed a student from Grand Prairie to use his address for their residence to have it appear that they lived in the district.

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“The implications from that weren’t as dramatic because the player didn’t play for us, but he did train and practice with us,” said Lea.

On April 8th, sanctions were issued against the school, football program, and Van Leenan. The program was fined $ 500 and forfeited its rights to play in this spring’s jamboree and any other exhibition game this spring.

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Van Leenan was suspended indefinitely and could not apply for reinstatement for two years.

However, on April 12th the school received additional reports stating the ineligible use of over-aged players in a game against Salmon Arm.

“We reported it immediately to BC School of Sports. That has led to additional sanctions. They’ve increased our fine to $ 1000. They’ve increased our probation period to two full years, where we have to be absolutely squeaky clean, ”said Lea.

“We now have a ban on post-season play next year. The sanctions against Mr. Van Leenan has been extended in that he is not allowed to apply for reinstatement of his coaching duties anywhere in British Columbia for five years. ”

OKM has canceled the spring football season because they have been unable to find a new football coach and a required teacher sponsor.

The BC School of Sports has further required staff to create an oversight plan for the football program and build a team roster that can support itself independently.

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