Rialto High School, in coordination with the Rialto Unified School District, is looking into the girls basketball program after allegations of misconduct against head coach Michael Anderson by the family of former player Diamond Smith.
Smith, a standout player on last year’s Citrus Belt League championship team, averaged 13.6 points and 6.0 rebounds for the Knights last year. But according to Smith’s mother, Betsy Wilson, a disconnect between her daughter and Anderson, in his first year at RHS, had been forming. The angst led to Smith leaving the team around Thanksgiving after a dispute about a missed practice according to Wilson.
“He was picking on her, accusing her of trying to transfer and practicing with other teams, just going after her,” Wilson said. “We had some meetings last year and we thought we cleared the air, but it just continued and finally Diamond decided that she didn’t want to play anymore. She missed a practice because of school and he punished her because he said the team came first.
“(Diamond) isn’t the first girl to leave because of (Anderson), but she was a three-year, all-CIF player. We weren’t going to let this happen without saying anything about it.”
The allegations levied by Wilson, which ranged from what she felt were unnecessary benchings to verbal harrassment to recruiting outside of Rialto High’s enrollment zone, were discussed in a meeting at RHS Monday afternoon involving Wilson, Smith’s father, stepfather, grandmother and Wilson’s neice, who coaches basketball in the Southland.
Smith’s contingent met with a group of administrators led by RHS principal Andres Luna, RUSD area director Gonzalo Avila and Dr. James Wallace, the Rialto Deputy Superintendent. The meeting went nearly two hours according to Wilson, with Wallace being present for the latter half of the meeting.
“We felt that the meeting was positive,” RUSD Director of Communications Syeda Jafri said. “There are two sides to every flapjack and want to make sure that as an administration that we have open dialogue toward both sides and work with them to come to a resolution. Diamond is a great student and great athlete and we want to assure that her best interests are in mind.”
The RUSD administration invited Smith to come back to the team, an invitation her family turned down.
“The family chose for the student not to come back to the team at this time,” Wallace said.
The school district will be using that dialogue in upcoming weeks to talk with Anderson and the Knight players, who have a 9-3 record going into their CBL opener with Redlands East Valley tonight, to ensure compliance in the face of the recruiting allegations levied by Wilson – which would violate CIF-Southern Section rules.
“We take allegations seriously as a school district, so we will conduct meetings to make sure that everything is being done correctly,” Jafri said. “We make sure to adhere to CIF rules so we are just going to make sure that is happening.”
Attempts to reach Anderson via e-mail and telephone have been unsuccessful.