Sarsland Resigns Again Amid Investigation

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Sarsland resigns again amid investigation

Tony Sarsland has been on leave since February, the school board was to hear about a district investigation this week, and in a strange turn of events, Sarsland has resigned from the team effective immediately, a school official said Tuesday.

Sarsland, whose long tenure has been scrutinized for everything from the coach’s ability to control his anger to the players’ rough style of play to accusations of recruiting, is now off the bench. Sarsland, one of the most prominent prep coaches in the state, was known for his black, western-style attire and gruff, old-school methods. Since 1993, the Elks have earned six trips to the state tournament — winning it all in 2001 — and claimed 12 conference championships. If he had remained coach, he would have been on target to get his 600th career victory next season. He finishes up with a 27-season record of 588-277-26.

Sarsland remains as a teacher at VandenBerge Middle School, the district said in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon. District officials declined to field any questions about the investigation.

District staff interviewed up to 20 players on Feb. 10 as part of an investigation that began Feb. 6. In an e-mail to the team’s families, the district said players would be interviewed about "complaints that we have received against Coach Sarsland."

In the wake of his players being questioned, Sarsland resigned but then reversed himself Feb. 16,but the district did not grant Sarsland’s request to return to the team.

Junior varsity coach Ben Gustafson took over for Sarsland on an interim basis near the end of last season.

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