JOHNSTON CITY, Ill. -- School officials in this Southern Illinois town suspended their boys' varsity basketball coach for the rest of the season after the team turned in their uniforms to protest his methods.
Keil Peebles, a former basketball star at Southern Illinois University at Edwards-ville, was told his services were no longer required after a contentious emergency school board meeting Thursday night, when members of the team and several parents told officials he was verbally abusive.
Peebles, who was suspended with pay, could be hired to coach again next year, said John Metzger, the district's superintendent. He said no decision has been made. A replacement will be named to finish the season, he said.
Metzger suspended the SIUE record-holder after the boys' basketball team returned from a game Wednesday night and left their uniforms at the high school, refusing to play again under the man who has led the Indians for the past four years.
"It was irreconcilable differences between them and the coach," Metzger said. School officials did not find fault with Peebles, but rather suspended him to save the season, Metzger said.
Varsity team members released a statement Thursday accusing Peebles -- who was also a star at Johnston City -- of belittling players during practice and at games, calling some "dummy" and "a waste of space."
Peebles "has singled out members of our team and degraded them in front of the other members of our team," the statement said.
"We did not walk out only for our team, but for the future members of the basketball team. We do not want kids younger than us to be ... broken down to the same level that we have."
The team said that a name-calling incident Wednesday night pushed players to take action after years of frustration.
Peebles, who does not teach at the school, could not be reached for comment.
Peebles holds records for the most career field goals, attempted field goals and assists at SIUE, where he scored 1,824 points when he played there from 1975-1979.