A petition supporting Desert Vista head basketball coach Gino Crump, who was recommended for termination following his role in attempting to stop a potential incident involving one of his players, has gained traction on social media.
Over 1,000 people have signed the petition since it was created by Carolynn and Antone White on Sunday. Carolynn and Antone have been involved with Desert Vista since 2016, when their son, Chase, attended the school until he passed away suddenly from a mysterious illness as a freshman. Carson, her younger son, is now a freshman at Desert Vista and is involved in multiple sports, including basketball.
The family became close with Crump shortly after Chase's death, when he took the time to not only get to know Carson, but support him in his basketball career, too.
“I have nothing but respect for the administrators, but I don’t think this is the right decision,” Carolynn said. “I felt the decision they made wasn’t based on what happened at the game. Though I wasn’t there, I saw the video and what one reporter said from his first-hand account of being there.
“I felt what they were saying (about Crump) wasn’t correct.”
On Friday, Dec. 13, Desert Vista’s varsity basketball program was involved in an emotional game against Saint Mary’s. The Thunder went on to defeat the Knights in overtime.
Following the game, Desert Vista players were seen on video clapping in the direction of the Saint Mary’s student section, which was located just to the right of the Thunder’s bench. As students from Saint Mary’s came down to the floor, administrators were seen holding them back. Meanwhile, Crump came and pushed one of his players back, away from the Saint Mary’s students still coming down to the floor. He was seen pushing the player again, this time in the direction of the handshake line.
Crump was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 17 as Desert Vista administrators launched an internal investigation into the incident. Three days later on Dec. 20, he was recommended to the board for termination.
Crump was unable to comment on the situation.
“There really is no rule book in terms of breaking up a fight,” Antone said. “It was a heated moment and he was trying to separate the group. I think things are taken out of context.
“It was a volatile situation and I think that is being left out.”
According to former assistant coach Pat Johnson, Mike Smith has been serving as the interim coach of Desert Vista in Crump’s absence.
The Thunder are 11-2 on the season. Their only losses came against Boulder Creek and JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) in the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif. Desert Vista plays Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) Monday night at 4:55 p.m. local time in the National Division third-place game.
The Tempe Union board is expected to vote on Crump’s termination at its next board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Both Antone and Carolynn plan to be at the meeting.
“We want as many people to show up to the board meeting as possible,” Carolynn said. “I want them to understand what his intent was. He was there to protect his team. I think they need to understand that.”
The petition can be found here.