School trustee disputes basketball story | RecordCourier.com

School trustee disputes basketball story

by Sheila Gardner, Staff Writer

Reports of George Echan’s “excessive and lewd behavior” at a high school basketball game are greatly exaggerated – if not downright false – the Douglas County school board member and Zephyr Cove attorney said Tuesday.

Echan, whose son Todd plays for George Whittell High School, was ejected from the stands Saturday after an unidentified official had him removed from the game against Bishop Manogue High School.

“It was a very spirited game,” Echan said. “Most people were very upset with the officiating. There was a pause, and I said, ‘Get the whistle out of your mouth. These fouls are ticky-tack. Let the kids play.’

“The gym was fairly quiet at the time and he (the official) could hear me without question. He turned and walked over to the coach and principal. I presumed they wanted me to leave and I did.”

Echan said he thought that was the end of the incident until he saw published reports Monday that the official said he engaged in “excessive and lewd behavior.”

“I was absolutely appalled. There was no suggestive behavior on my part, no obscenity, no gesture of any kind,” he said. “How anybody could make such a false and libelous statement I don’t know, unless it was a case of mistaken identity. I want to give this guy the benefit of the doubt and let him say it was a case of mistaken identity. If he says it was me and that I was engaged in lewd conduct, he’s lying,” Echan said.

He said he could produce the names of dozens of witnesses who could attest to his behavior at the game, which the Whittell Warriors lost, 63-50.

No PeeWee Herman. “My friends and my family know who I am. Everybody knows I am not engaged in lewd conduct. I am not proud of the ejection,” Echan said. “I realize I should do nothing to cast a bad light on my (school board) office. But this is preposterous. This is serious to me. I don’t want to be characterized in the PeeWee Herman class.”

Whittell principal Larry Snyder said Tuesday that he did not witness the behavior that led to Echan’s ouster.

“Mr. Echan was very cooperative. He came down from the stands and said, ‘Don’t feel bad about it,’ and he left. As far as what he did or said, I don’t know. All the official said to me was that the man in the black jacket (Echan) needs to leave the game, so that’s what we did.”

Snyder said he was sitting opposite the Whittell fans to keep an eye on his own students’ behavior and didn’t hear any remarks that he would classify as out of line.

Jerry Hughes, executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, said it’s unusual for a fan to be kicked out of a game. The NIAA helps direct, develop and support Nevada high school interscholastic activities including sports, forensics and music.

“We address sportsmanship in our handbooks,” Hughes said. “We discourage booing and taunting. But athletics is emotional. People get tied up in things and act like they might not act. My initial interpretation is not to get involved. It’s a school issue. It involves one of their parents, one of their fans. It’s unfortunate it was a school board member because it got magnified.”

Hughes said he thought it was inappropriate for the official to characterize Echan’s behavior as “lewd and excessive.”

Up to the school. “I also think it was inappropriate for somebody to be in the lockerroom and ask him about that comment. There can be a thousand different circumstances when somebody is behaving inappropriately and can by removed by officials whether it’s a player, coach or fan,” he said.

Hughes said a player or coach would be subject to a one-game suspension, but that decision was up to the school.

Principal Snyder said Echan would be allowed to return.

“If you asked me whether Mr. Echan can come to another game, my answer would be, ‘Yes, certainly,'” Snyder said.

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