The Clovis varsity boys basketball team wants it known they support their coach and disagree with the school’s decision to fire him.
Twelve of the 13 varsity players showed up at the CNJ on Tuesday for an impromptu interview, describing Isler as a “second father” and saying they are frustrated with school superintendent.
J.D. Isler is coaching under a temporary restraining order issued by a district judge.
The ruling came after Isler — accused of recruiting players — was suspended by the New Mexico Activities Association in mid-December. Isler was later notified by the school he would be fired in January and sought relief from the courts.
In recently filed court motions, Clovis schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm says she has lost confidence in Isler’s ability to coach varsity basketball.
Appointed team spokesman and senior Logan Turnbow said, “I think we all agree that this could have been handled at a much better time. After the season would have been amazing. They didn’t have to do it right when our season was starting when we were in the thick of the holiday tournament and all that.
“I think the school district handled this very poorly.”
When the team learned Isler had been fired, they had a meeting and, “There were tons of tears shed that night. Our coach, our second father was gone,” Turnbow said.
For the seven seniors on the team, Turnbow said, “This is our last time playing for him, playing for Clovis, wearing purple, Cats and all that. It’s pretty much ruined it.
“We have all the on-court drama — the games and everything, but then we have all the off-court stuff to worry about now too. We don’t know the next day, the next game, if we’re going to have Coach Isler on the sidelines or not.”
Seidenwurm said Tuesday she admires the team’s dedication but said she will not comment on the situation because of the ongoing court case.
Neither she nor the NMAA has said specifically what Isler is alleged to have done other than unethical conduct.
The NMAA said he violated its “undue influence” rule.
Isler said in an earlier court petition the NMAA sanctioned him because it said he broke the rules by meeting with high school junior Lathan Lieb in the summer to discuss his possible move from Dora to Clovis.
Lieb was among players interviewed Tuesday and said he was not recruited by Isler.
He said he and his father had meetings with Isler and were aware of the rules governing recruiting and were careful.
“We didn’t want to do that and we didn’t do that,” he said.
“We did everything legally. We never (did)... anything illegal in words of recruiting or anything behind anybody’s back and we’ve let them know that.”
Lieb said he wanted to move to Clovis his senior year because the 5A school offers, “more opportunity, athletic-wise and academically. It prepares you better for college.”
Isler’s attorney Warren Frost, speaking on his client’s behalf, said the school district is, “throwing Coach Isler to the dogs.”