Aspen High basketball coach nets suspension |

Aspen High basketball coach nets suspension

John Colson
Aspen High basketball coach Steve Ketchum works with Luke Gosda on drills during a practice earlier this season. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Little is being said publicly about the recent suspension of Aspen High School basketball coach Steve Ketchum. According to sources familiar with the situation, Ketchum and team captain Luke Gosda got into an argument that ended with Gosda being ordered out of the gym during practice Jan. 18.When Gosda apparently did not leave fast enough, Ketchum allegedly “shoved” Gosda and swore at the player as he left the gym, an eyewitness told The Aspen Times on condition of anonymity.Aspen High School Athletic Director Carol Sams then put Ketchum on administrative leave pending an investigation. Assistant coach Dirk Gosda, who also is Luke’s father, is filling Ketchum’s job temporarily.

Ketchum, reached on Monday, would not comment, citing school district policy that forbids discussion of personnel matters by district employees. He expressed hope that he would be back in school today, teaching health classes and working with the basketball teams.In a prepared statement to The Times, Ketchum stated: “It is with great regret that I could not be with my teams this past weekend and could only hear of their heartbreaking losses from home. I hope to return to my teams this week and help them reach their full potential as we head toward the playoffs just one month away. I have great confidence that our professional and fair-minded administration will remove me from administrative leave and reinstate me after completing a full investigation involving matters that had already been positively resolved prior to the games this past weekend. The greatest regret is that I could not share any information with my varsity and JV teams about why I was not there to help them perform to their potential these past four games. The high school boys basketball teams have suffered needlessly in my absence.”The Skiers have lost their most recent games.Luke Gosda’s mother, Heather, who has written at least one letter to the editor praising the team and its coaches, declined to comment, noting that her husband is now the interim coach and her son was involved in the incident that led to Ketchum’s suspension.

“I have to respect his wishes, which are ‘not to get involved, mom,'” she said on Monday.Calls to the school district’s administrative offices went unanswered Monday; it was a teachers’ workday, meaning students were not in classes but staff was on duty.This is the second time in roughly six months that Sams has been at odds with a coach. Former AHS baseball coach Rick Ryan claims Sams fired him at the end of the 2005 season.Sams could not be reached for comment at the time, but Superintendent Diana Sirko said she and Sams decided to not renew Ryan’s coaching contract, citing a need to take the team in “a different direction.”

Ryan said he was dismissed because his coaching style did not conform to Sams’ ideas and because he coached with an old-fashioned “tough” style.Then-current and former AHS baseball players, outraged by the dismissal, wrote numerous letters to the editor decrying Sams’ decision as “politics” and “tragic,” unsuccessfully lobbying Sirko to reinstate Ryan.John Colson’s e-mail address is

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