UPDATE: Threats Made to Newport Harbor Coach

Basketball program is suspended after warnings of harm are received by the high school coach and his wife. Police investigate.

Newport Harbor High School suspended its boys basketball program because of physical threats against coach Larry Hirst and his wife, according to media reports. Principal Michael Vossen, in an e-mail sent to parents Saturday, said some team members are suspected.

"Due to the severity of this incident, and for the safety of our staff members, effective immediately the boys' basketball program is suspended pending further investigation," Vossen wrote.

The Daily Pilot broke the story Friday night, reporting that Hirst resigned earlier that day. The case was being investigated by Newport and Huntington Beach police, the paper said.

Mark Okey, whose son is on the team, told the Orange County Register the
threats were in letters left at Hirst's home in Huntington Beach. Another was left on a car driven by Hirst's wife, Sheridan, who is also teacher at Newport Harbor.

Okey said six players, including his son, were pulled out of class March 13 and questioned by a campus police.

Hirst, 50, spent 16 of his 28 years as a coach at Newport Harbor. He had a long run of success with the Sailors, but the program struggled in recent years. He took a leave of absence as coach in January, in the midst of a 10-game losing streak.

The Sailors finished the season 7-17 and went just 2-8 in the Sunset League.

Okey said one of the notes left at Hirst's home said, "Leave, die or go away."


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