NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Drury High School's boys basketball coach missed two games this week because of an incident that occurred last Friday at the conclusion of a game against Taconic.
Tenth-year varsity head coach Jack Racette, a 1983 Drury graduate, will be back on the bench Friday night when the team hosts rival Hoosac Valley, North Adams School Superintendent James Montepare said Thursday night.
Montepare declined to use the word "suspension" to characterize Racette's absence from games against Lenox and Wahconah this week, but those two games came on the heels of an ugly incident after the last game Racette did coach the Blue Devils.
After an emotional game in which Taconic senior guard Shaqille Ardrey scored 32 points, Racette got into a shouting match with Ardrey and the Taconic squad as the teams left the floor.
Racette indicated to Taconic personnel that Ardrey made a non-obscene but taunting gesture in his direction as the game ended.
"You're messing with the wrong guy," Racette told Ardrey as the teams milled around center court in front of the scorer's table. He also repeatedly told the Taconic side, "That's disrespectful."
On Thursday, Montepare said he is satisfied that Racette is prepared to change his behavior.
"I wasn't at the game," Montepare said. "There was an incident that happened. I'm not at liberty to talk about the details. Mr. Racette was involved in an incident. There's a protocol that's followed.
"Mr. Racette is cognizant of how he should have handled it, and he realizes he should have handled it differently. I'm sure he will moving forward.
"There were some consequences for Mr. Racette, and he fully accepted what those consequences were. He should be back on full coaching duties for [Friday's] game."
Montepare said he did not discuss the incident with his counterparts in Pittsfield, and he did not know whether Racette had apologized to Taconic coach Bill Heaphy this week.
"That's something you need to talk to Jack about," Montepare said. "I don't know if he had contact. I believe maybe at the game he may have had a conversation with the coach there."
A call to Racette's home Thursday evening was not immediately returned.
After coaches Friday night were able to corral their teams to their respective locker rooms, there was no sign of contact between Racette and the Taconic coaches. Taconic's boys basketball locker room is on the second floor of the high school, above the visitors' locker room.
While the Drury team dressed in its locker room, in Taconic personnel advised teens congregating in the hallway not to engage the Drury contingent when it emerged.
A Pittsfield police officer was asked to come back to the locker room entrance and make sure Racette and the Drury team made it to their bus without incident.
Montepare indicated he heard about the incident from people who did attend the game.
"It's a small community," he said. "The basketball and sports followings are very passionate, so I inquire about the games."
He said the high school sports governing authority, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association, was not involved in the "protocol" followed this week.
Montepare also said that a technical foul assessed to Racette three days earlier in a game at Mount Greylock did not factor into the decision to sideline Racette for two games.
"Technical fouls happen all the time," Montepare said. "I don't like to see them.
"We have conversations about technicals and anything that would have an effect on our students and coaching staff. That's something we discuss openly all the time. If we have issues and need to make corrections, we make those comments very vocal."
Montepare had high praise for Racette's coaching ability.
"Mr. Racette is an extremely competent and very passionate basketball coach," he said. "There's no one I would rather have coaching my son's varsity basketball team, but he gets very passionate and very heated.
"He has to keep himself in check. He's very cognizant of that."
In Tuesday's and Thursday's Berkshire Eagle, it was reported that Racette missed the prior night's game "with an illness."
Montepare Thursday night had no explanation for the use of that language.
"We would never have said anything that was untrue, but I'm not sure people would have said he was ill," Montepare said. "They might have said he was indisposed or not available.
"I haven't read the articles and haven't talked about them to anybody but you."
As for his refusal to use the word "suspension," Montepare said he was bound by confidentiality rules.
"I always struggle with this because it's a personnel matter," he said. "I'm bound not to divulge any employee matters that happen with the press.
"All I can say is ... there's a normal protocol for any type of infraction or altercation. It's standard operating policy. In the best interest of all — students and coaching staff — we follow that to the letter of the law."