Struggling Medina Valley athletic director accuses community members of defamation

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CASTROVILLE, TX – The athletic director and head football coach of the Medina Valley Independent School District has pushed back against allegations of erratic behavior and bullying, accusing several people in the community of defamation in letters sent by his attorney.

In January, residents presented a list of complaints against Lee Crisp to officials of the Medina Valley Independent School District. Community members have accused Crisp of refusing to let a player go home with the team after a game at Lockhart, mocking the quarterback’s lisp leaving in practice and appearing drunk at several school events .

Crisp argues ‘irreparable damage’ was done to his reputation in the months following the public complaints, which were frequently raised at District Council meetings by parents and members of the Valley community of the Medina.

“Your comments, messages, and particular misrepresentations of Lee’s actions, profession, or history constitute a direct and false attack on his character and reputation, and while false, have already caused reputational damage and slandered the good name and faith of Mr. Crisp, causing irreparable harm to his personal reputation and family relationships,” the letter read.

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Crisp’s attorney, Patrick Hundley, confirmed by phone on Tuesday that several people in the community had received letters from his law firm earlier in April asking them to stop making false or derogatory statements about the coach.

The letters were sent specifically to the people who spoke the most about the allegations, including Oh and Jeremy Rash, the parents of the starting quarterback who was allegedly mocked by Crisp.

Oh (left) and Jeremy (right) Rash claim their son was bullied by athletic director and head football coach Lee Crisp last fall. (KSAT)

Hundley said on Tuesday that the incident was blown out of proportion by assistant coaches disagreeing with Crisp and that he believed the teenager himself thought nothing of the alleged incident.

Regarding the Lockhart episode, where Crisp is accused of refusing to let a player go home on the team bus, Hundley said the player misbehaved. Crisp arranged for him to return to campus in a district-related vehicle before the parents of another student-athlete ultimately provided the teen with a ride, his attorney said. Hundley said the decision was made in the best interests of the child.

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Hundley, who called Crisp a “man of great integrity”, said allegations that his client was intoxicated during school activities have perplexed Crisp, who says he has no idea of ​​what community members are talking about.

“He doesn’t come to games drunk. He doesn’t walk around the community drunk,” Hundley said.

A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation in February confirmed that Crisp was promoted to his top positions in 2019 despite failing a state drug test, which was among the complaints filed by the parents. A follow-up investigation last month raised even more questions about Crisp’s tenure, after a former MVISD bus driver said she was forced to quit after failing a drug test.

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Despite the existence of records confirming the failed drug test, a district spokeswoman earlier this year called the complaints against Crisp “rumors or unsubstantiated allegations.”

Hundley said Tuesday Crisp’s drug test failure occurred when he was hired by the district in August 2017 and he has passed all drug tests since then. Hundley added that Crisp was not driving student-athletes on district buses because of a medical condition, not because of failed screening.

Hundley added that Crisp intends to stay in his post for as long as the district has him. His letter says Crisp may bring civil lawsuits against members of the community for defamation, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and harassment.

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