Don Garland suspension from South Canterbury Amateur Athletics Club rescinded

Don Garland (at left rear) listens as Bruce Leadley (standing center) speaks at the annual general meeting about the bid ...
John Bisset

Don Garland (at left rear) listens as Bruce Leadley (standing center) speaks at the annual general meeting about the bid to have Garland removed from the South Canterbury Amateur Athletics Club.

Don Garland remains a life member of the South Canterbury Amateur Athletics Club surviving a move by club committee members to suspend his membership.

He was facing suspension after allegations of bullying and harassment. 

It was alleged Garland had acted in a manner unbecoming of a coach and that he breached the club's code of conduct, and elements of the New Zealand Athletics coaches' code of conduct.

He was also accused of acting in a manner prejudicial to the objects or interests of the club, and acting in a manner that would bring the club into disrepute.

At the annual meeting of the club in Timaru on Wednesday night, members voted for a motion to rescind his suspension, despite objections from the committee leadership and other club members.

Garland, a long-time coach and life member of the club, and until recently a long-serving New Zealand selector, isn't over the line yet. 

The issue will now be passed onto the new incoming committee, also voted for on Wednesday night. 

Club president Jenny Ryan said she was advised by the committee's lawyer to let Timaru District councillor Peter Burt chair the meeting in which 60 people attended. 

Club patron Bruce Leadley put forward two motions.

One requested the suspension of Garland be rescinded and the other requesting that the cost of legal advice, sought in relation to the suspension of Garland, not come from club funds.  

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Leadley said he decided to get involved because he felt the move to suspend Garland was "extreme" and had a "draconian vibe".

"To me the move by the committee was over-kill."

Club member Diane Smith agreed with Leadley. She said Ryan had told her "she had always wanted to get rid of Garland".

But Ryan told the club she was concerned about the comments being made in the meeting and believed people were going to vote on something they knew little about.

She said Garland had for, a "considerable amount of time", acted inappropriately towards club members and fellow coaches. 

She claimed emails sent to her, from Garland, were "offensive and accusatory". 

"I have been bullied by him for the last three years... he has threatened me with severe consequences. It's really, really difficult for me to face Don Garland."

Garland told the meeting the emails were sent because no one would listen to him. 

"The last three years I have found the running of the club [to be] dictatorial and socialistic."

Club member Peter Walsh said he suspected egos might be getting in the way and reminded them it was not about them, it was about the children. 

Burt urged members and the new committee to move forward and put the situation behind them.

"From here, it's up to you guys to move forward and try and take the club with you."

While the motion to suspend Garland was rescinded, the motion was amended so the new committee can deal with the matter.

The second motion, which was to ensure the cost of legal advice sought in relation to the suspension not be a charge on the club, was overturned. If the committee chose to, it could seek future legal advice and decide how the costs would be financed.

After the meeting, Garland said he was pleased with the outcome.

"I'm just sorry that it [meeting] had to happen."

He apologised for any offence caused: there was no intention to cause any consternation to people involved.

When asked about what he thought may happen when the new committee dealt with the matter, he was optimistic. 

"I think its a really good committee."



 - Stuff

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