Mike Burkett, who last season led the St. Mary’s girls’ basketball team to the program’s first state championship, has been put on administrative leave due to an allegation of misconduct. In 19 seasons at St. Mary's, Burkett earned a 369-99 record as head coach.
Burkett was placed on administrative leave in mid- to late October, according to St. Mary’s principal Dave Hyland, and an interim basketball coach has been placed in charge until the investigation has concluded.
Hyland said he cannot divulge the nature of the misconduct allegation and is limited on what the school can tell the community until the investigation has concluded.
Hyland said he does not have a timeline for completion of the investigation, which is being handled by an outside agency. A search of court records did not indicate any criminal charges against Burkett at this time.
“We hope to resolve this as quickly as possible,” Hyland said. “Once we receive the report, depending on what we find, coach Burkett will be put back in.”
The Pirates begin their season Saturday against Resurrection Christian. Last week, St. Mary's was named the top team in the Class 3A Colorado High School Activities Association preseason girls' basketball poll, earning five first-place votes. Colorado Springs Christian, which St. Mary's beat 44-38 in last season's state championship, is second with four first-place votes.
Just eight months ago Burkett led the Pirates to the program's first state championship, after nearly two decades of winning seasons under Burkett and three straight seasons earning a top-10 seed in the state tournament.
“I think the school has been around for something like 140 years and it’s cool that this is the first state title in hoops,” Burkett said after last season's state championship. “This is a good group. They won it for their community and for their school.”
Gazette columnist Paul Klee wrote on Burkett's impact on his team after last year's state championship.
"They flat-out love the guy," Klee wrote. "All four of the Pirates I spoke with said, in some form or another, the huge, sweet trophy they lugged to his bus is for 'Coach Mike.'"
Burkett responded to The Gazette’s girls’ basketball preview questionnaire on Nov. 12, after he was placed on leave, stating that he is entering his 20th season as the St. Mary’s girls’ basketball coach.
“We are the defending state champions, and a young team capable of great things,” Burkett said on the preview form.
“Coach Burkett is still helping to maintain the continuity with the program,” Hyland said. “He is involved with us, but is not allowed on campus or with the team until we resolve this."
Kathy Hanshew is filling the interim post as girls’ basketball coach. Hanshew has worked for the school for 30 years as a teacher, volleyball coach and athletic director, according to the St. Mary’s staff directory.
Hanshew will coach alongside assistants who have coached with Burkett. Although Hanshew does not have experience coaching basketball, Hyland said the assistants will be able to continue Burkett’s system in his absence.
“We just decided the best thing is to get an in-house head coach,” Hyland said. “We thought it was best to appoint someone knowledgeable at being a head coach and in house to manage the program."
“Theoretically he could come back as soon as the report comes in, but until we see the content of the report we cannot say one way or another,” Hyland said.