Isler benched as Clovis coach – for now

CNJ file photo The NMAA said Wednesday Clovis’ boys basketball coach J.D. Isler is still suspended after a Tuesday federal court ruled a temporary restraining order had expired.

CNJ staff

Clovis High School basketball coach J.D. Isler has been benched again.

Isler, suspended on Dec. 16 and subsequently fired as coach, had continued to coach the Wildcats under a temporary restraining order issued Dec. 18 by District Judge Teddy Hartley. But on Tuesday night, Federal Judge Martha Vasquez ruled the restraining order had expired.

Officials with New Mexico Activities Association and Clovis Municipal Schools said Vasquez’s ruling effectively ends Isler’s season — at least for now.

Warren Frost, Isler’s attorney, said another hearing is scheduled Feb. 16 in Vasquez’s court in Santa Fe. Frost said he will once again ask that Isler be reinstated and allowed to coach “until this is all resolved.”

While all parties agree Isler’s out for at least two weeks as Wildcats’ coach, exactly how he came to be suspended remains at issue.

NMAA Communications Director Robert Zayas says the suspension was issued through mutual agreement between CMS and NMAA.

School Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm says she fired Isler as coach only after the NMAA suspended him.

“It is true I did not appeal their findings,” Seidenwurm said. “They did not ask me if it was OK for them to sanction J.D. for the rest of the year. The subsequent firing, I own that. After they sanctioned him, I dismissed him.”

Isler, in his ninth season as CHS coach, has been accused of recruiting violations. He’s denied the allegations. He continues to teach science classes for CMS, Seidenwurm said.

The Wildcats (10-8) host Hobbs in their district opener Friday.

Assistant coach Scott Robinson will take over as Clovis head coach, Seidenwurm said.

Isler said he’s confident his players will fare well in his absence. He said he’s barred from talking to players while under suspension but if he could talk to them he said he’d remind them to take care of each other.

“We have a saying on our team. It’s called ‘Hold the rope,’” Isler said.

“Basically, if one of your teammates is hanging off a cliff, you have to hold the rope, even if it burns your hands or makes your hands bleed.

“So I’d (like) to tell them something along those lines and let them know that I’m still fighting for them. They just have to try to take care of business on the court and see how this thing plays out.

“This is a very resilient group. They’ve been through a lot already.”

Vasquez also denied a petition to intervene in the case, filed behalf of Logan Turnbow, 17, and Landyn Snipes, 18, both Clovis seniors on the varsity team.

Vasquez ruled that though Turnbow and Snipes may feel Isler not being able to coach is detrimental to their success, “the basketball players have no right to a particular coach and cite no authority allowing intervention in an analogous circumstance.”

The petition filed by the player’s attorney argued the suspension and or termination of Isler would have devastating impact on his clients.

Vasquez found Turnbow and Snipes’ interests are adequately represented through Isler’s attorney and they will not be excluded from the proceedings.