Status remains 'uncertain' for Hickman coach Arnel Monroe

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | 6:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — For a second straight week, Hickman head football coach Arnel Monroe has been absent from school grounds as well as team activities. He did not travel with the Kewpies for their game at Jackson last weekend and, as of Wednesday, athletics director Doug Mirts said the third-year coach's status is "uncertain" for Friday's Homecoming game against Rockhurst.

Mirts declined to elaborate further on Monroe's continued absence.

"We're not able to comment on anything with a personnel issue," he said Wednesday.

Monroe is also not commenting on the matter.

Monroe has been away from team practices since Oct. 14. Assistant coaches say they learned "last week" that Monroe would not be traveling to Jackson.

Rumors of his unclear status with the team emerged Thursday when a report included a text from Columbia Public Schools to Hickman players' parents.

That text, sent via the School District's alert system, said:

"HHS and District administration understand that your children may be discussing issues that pertain to HHS football coaches. CPS takes all issues concerning your students' education very seriously. Please note that this issue is under review but that in compliance with state and federal law, the District is unable to provide additional information at this time. Be assured that the students are in excellent hands and that the games Thursday at Tipton" (JV)" and Friday at Jackson are proceeding as scheduled."

"There really isn't much any of us can say," CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said in an email Tuesday. "Personnel matters are confidential by law, and the district cannot comment."

Monroe graduated from Hickman in 1985 and has had a position on the football staff for 21 years. With Monroe gone from the sidelines in Jackson, the Kewpies crafted a 34-27 overtime win.

"There was a lot of emotion for us because it was the first game he's missed in a very long time," senior quarterback Mason Murray said at Tuesday's practice. "We were playing that game for him because we missed him."

After its upcoming game against No. 6 Rockhurst on Friday, Hickman has one game, a yet-to-be announced district pairing, guaranteed on its schedule. That game will determine if the team makes a third consecutive playoff appearance since Monroe became head coach in 2011.

"We just continue to build upon the things that he preaches every day," assistant coach Ryan Nesbitt said at Tuesday's practice. "I know he means a lot to these kids. We're pulling for him, but (we're) trying to stay as is, business as usual."

 Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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