Central Valley School District opted not to renew the contract of girls basketball coach Ryan Bragdon this year because he was not “forthcoming about the nature and extent of a relationship with a student-athlete” at a previous job at Northwest Nazarene University.
According to documents obtained Tuesday by The Spokesman-Review, an investigation commissioned by the district discovered “by a preponderance of the evidence” that Bragdon had a “close personal and emotional relationship” with a player at Northwest Nazarene during the 2015-16 season.
That relationship, the report concluded, “is not appropriate in high school or collegiate athletics.”
Bragdon has denied any inappropriate behavior at Northwest Nazarene, located in Nampa, Idaho. Without explanation, he was removed as head coach at NNU midway through his third season, in February 2016.
Bragdon, who was hired in the summer of 2018, coached at Central Valley High School last season. He was let go on Nov. 15, but Superintendent Ben Small gave no reason for the action.
Bragdon did not respond Tuesday night to calls to his business, Northwest Images Photography. However, in an interview last month, Bragdon said allegations of his relationship with a student-athlete at NNU were “absolutely 100% false.”
The investigation followed an incident in mid-February, when a community member told another fan during a girls basketball game she was surprised to see Bragdon coaching at Central Valley.
The woman stated Bragdon had left Northwest Nazarene after it was alleged he had an inappropriate relationship with a player.
Representatives of the district followed up by contacting NNU through its legal counsel, but received no response.
Likewise, “Ten other individuals associated with the NNU women’s basketball team from 2013 through 2016 were contacted, all of whom either failed to respond or refused to participate in the investigation,” the report said.
According to the same report, Central Valley discovered Bragdon had a “close personal and emotional relationship that was not sports or educationally oriented” with an unnamed player.
The report added Bragdon and the player, who was over 18 during the relationship, “discussed books, music, personal issues and perspectives, and their feelings for one another,” in addition to basketball and academics.
According to the findings, “communications occurred in person, often outside the presence or observation of other coaches or players, including the team co-captain.”
“The parties also communicated via letters and electronic means including text and Snapchat messages,” and continued after Bragdon was no longer the coach at NNU.
The investigation also states “a sexual relationship between the parties could not be substantiated based on the information available.”
That may be attributable to a nondisclosure agreement signed by NNU and Bragdon. The university has refused to sign a waiver to negate the agreement.
The report concluded by saying “it cannot be confirmed that the relationship formed the basis for the University’s decision to remove Mr. Bragdon because, as noted above, the organization has refused to respond to all inquiries.”
Bragdon, 41, is the son of former Spokane police Chief Roger Bragdon. He played basketball in the 1990s under former CV boys coach Rick Sloan. He graduated from the University of Washington.
He replaced Freddie Rehkow, who retired in 2018.
Bragdon was replaced by assistant varsity coach Felice Orrell.
The last sentence in this version corrects Felice Orrell former job title.
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