MHS wrestling coach under fire
Montrose High School head wrestling coach Jack Garrison has been asked to resign after coaching the program for the last eight years. (Joel Blocker / Daily Press)

MONTROSE — Montrose wrestling coach Jack Garrison's days are numbered.

After eight years of coaching at MHS, he has been asked to step down. But Garrison, who disputes allegations against him, doesn't intend to go quietly.

On Jan. 22, Garrison received a letter from Montrose High athletic director Lyle Wright asking him to resign because a phone call received from an anonymous caller who said Garrison was intoxicated and violent at the Red Barn on Jan. 9.

"I'm gone because a person who didn't leave their name accuses me of something? What the heck is that?" Garrison said.

However, Wright said that wasn't the case.

"That's false," Wright said. "The police confirmed what happened."

The police were called to the Red Barn, but no charges were filed against Garrison. Wright said why Garrison was asked to step down was more than just the Red Barn incident.

"Mr. Garrison was told before the season was over that he had the option of resigning or he'd be removed from the district," Wright said. "Multiple incidents led to this decision." Wright said while he would like to comment on specific incidents, he couldn't due to a confidentiality agreement.

The Red Barn incident is just the tip of the iceberg, as Garrison said he and Wright have had differences since Wright became MHS athletic director four years ago.

Garrison said the problem began three years ago when Nucla and Longmont wrestling coaches called asking why they were not asked to participate in the Indian Invitational. When Garrison questioned Wright, he said Wright told him it wasn't his decision.

Garrison said he has received six letters and two e-mails from Wright since 2006 informing him of supposed misbehaviors, expectations and concerns. But Garrison said he insists a lot of it isn't accurate or fair. He said while he wasn't perfect, there were plenty of confrontations he had with Wright where he felt mistreated and disrespected.

"Hey, I'm no angel," Garrison said. "I screw up. But I care about these kids and I've done a good job. These claims are just not true. How can you accuse me of something without a credible source?"

Garrison said he has been accused of drinking before practice, which he says was proven wrong because he and Wright were in a meeting at the time Garrison was supposedly caught drinking. While there were other accusations, Garrison said the letter he received before the state tournament was the most hurtful and that he hasn't done anything to warrant him stepping down as coach.

"I care about these kids totally and that's why our program has worked. We've been very successful, won multiple Southwestern League titles. My coaching record speaks for itself."

Montrose was coming off a league title this last season and sent seven wrestlers to the state tournament.

Wright said Garrison had been an asset to Montrose wrestling, but that Garrison's accusations against him were completely false.

"I really think he has done a great job and I appreciate the work he put in," Wright said. "There were just several things that happened that we can't get past. It was just time to change directions."

As for the future, Garrison said he isn't sure what's going to happen but that he isn't stepping down.

"My heart is in Montrose. It always has been and it always will be," Garrison said. "I was a state champion in 1977 as a Montrose wrestler and was a part of the 1975 state championship team. We've taken plenty of kids to state and won SWL titles. My coaching career speaks for itself."

He said he won't stop coaching if let go. He said he would like an opportunity to talk with Wright and other Montrose High School administration members to discuss the issues before any decision is made.

"I think I am owed that after eight years," Garrison said. "I just want my chance to ask them face to face why they've asked me to resign. I am definitely not resigning though. If they want to fire me, then they can fire me."

Gary Hudson, Montrose wrestling booster club president, said that Garrison's departure was a shock.

"We're disappointed," Hudson said. "Losing Jack is going to be big, so we're just trying to see how we'll move forward."

You can contact Matt Lindberg via e-mail at mattl@montrosepress.com

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