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Minnesota Supreme Court: High school coaches are not public officials

Minnesota Supreme Court: High school coaches are not public officials Photo: KSTP-TV

Updated: September 05, 2019 08:29 AM

The Minnesota Supreme Court says parents who defame their children's public high school coaches don't have legal protection against their claims.

The high court ruled Wednesday the coaches are not public officials so they have a lower bar to prove any defamation case.

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The decision reportedly involves former Woodbury High School girls' basketball coach Nathan McGuire. Two parents allegedly complained to state education officials that McGuire was mistreating his players and one said he had been in jail and that he was stealing funds.

McGuire filed a defamation lawsuit against the parents, which a district court dismissed on grounds that he, as a coach, was a public official and failed to prove the parents recklessly made a false report.

An appeals court upheld the lower court, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision.

"This ruling will do more to protect coaches from malicious, baseless attacks than any level of legislation ever could," Carl Pierson, executive director of the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association, said in a statement. "Minnesota coaches now have a means of not only defending themselves against false accusations, but they have the ability to engage in litigation against those that made the deliberately false and damaging allegations. This is absolutely a 'game changer' for our coaches."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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