By Tim Eberly
A decision on suspended Montana State University-Northern women's basketball coach Kevin Emerick's administrative appeal to MSU could come late next week.
MSU president Geoff Gamble has received written statements from both of the parties involved the twice-suspended Emerick and MSU-N Chancellor Alex Capdeville. Once he receives a second written statement from Emerick on Monday, Gamble will review the paperwork and make his decision about whether Emerick's Dec. 12 suspension was warranted or if MSU-N violated his employee rights.
"It is possible I could come to a decision by late next week," Gamble said. "I think that would be the earliest. I want to make sure I have enough time to reflect on the issues. I want to make sure I've been very thoughtful."
If Gamble rules in Emerick's favor, Emerick could be reinstated as coach while the Skylights are playing in the Frontier Conference tournament in Butte.
Members of the Skylights team, who have refused to play for Emerick, were heading to a game this weekend and could not be reached for comment.
Gamble received a statement Feb. 5 from Emerick's attorneys, Dan Boucher and Robert Peterson, outlining their case. Capdeville responded to that document Feb. 15.
On Monday, Gamble told Emerick he had a week to reply to Capdeville, giving Emerick the last word.
"I think the circumstances determine how you get your input," Gamble said. "Here, it seemed like the right thing to do. I certainly wanted them to take a look at (Capdeville's statement) and be responsive to it."
Gamble said neither side presented any information that has not been presented in the last several months, but declined to disclose the specifics of their arguments.
"Each (party) is trying to tell their story as clearly as possible," Gamble said. "Both Mr. Emerick and his attorneys and Capdeville have kept it pretty straightforward in terms of the issues."
Capdeville suspended Emerick with pay for maintaining a personal relationship with 22-year-old Anna Fabatz, a former Skylight who is now Emerick's girlfriend. Fabatz was Emerick's student in one of his physical education classes this fall.
Emerick has said Capdeville and MSU-N athletic director Ted Spatkowski gave him permission to see Fabatz socially after her final season ended. He also has said he had arranged with Spatkowski to keep Fabatz in his class as long as Spatkowski supervised and graded her work.
Emerick has also said that a formal complaint was never filed against him, and that he didn't have an opportunity to defend himself.
Capdeville suspended Emerick after an investigation sparked by allegations Emerick made in a mass e-mail to MSU-N faculty and staffers in October, in which he accused a former recruiter of sexual misconduct.
Emerick sued to regain his job, and a district judge reinstated him in early January, ordering MSU to allow Emerick to go through a university appeal.
Lawyers for MSU appealed to the Montana Supreme Court using an uncommon appeal route and were unsuccessful.
In its second attempt, the court ruled 4-1 to allow MSU-N to remove Emerick while the case was pending.
That decision came a week after Emerick's players requested his removal and refused to play for him, citing verbal and psychological abuse.
With interim head coach Mike Erickson, the Skylights (19-9 overall, 6-7 in Frontier Conference) play Saturday at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. The conference tournament begins Feb. 28.