Center Grove hires investigator to probe allegations against head football coach

Moore is in his 18th year as the football and boy’s track coach at Center Grove HS. (WTHR Photo)
Center Grove coach investigated
Coach investigated

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of the language in this report may offend readers. WTHR is including it because the language is a key part of the investigation and accusations against coach Eric Moore.

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WTHR) — 13 Investigates has learned Center Grove Community Schools is investigating allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment against head football coach Eric Moore.

Coach Eric Moore lead the CGHS football team to two state titles. (WTHR Photo)
Coach Eric Moore lead the CGHS football team to two state titles. (WTHR Photo)

Moore, now in his 18th year as the football and boy's track coach at Center Grove High School, is considered one of the most successful high school football coaches in the state. But 13 Investigates has discovered his conduct – both on and off the field – is now at the center of an investigation that school officials launched this winter. WTHR confirmed the school district has hired an attorney to investigate alleged incidents dating back several years.

"Claims against Coach Moore have been made alleging that he was abusing his authority as a coach by being verbally abusive toward his players. The School Corporation retained an outside independent investigator to conduct an investigation into these allegations," Center Grove superintendent Rich Arkanoff told WTHR in a written statement.

Attorney Cathy Duclos is conducting the investigation. She has been interviewing parents, students and school district staff since Center Grove Schools hired her in February.

"I spoke to the investigator and shared our experience," a Center Grove parent told WTHR. "I don't want to see him fired, but I had to say something. The reality is he's causing kids emotional trauma with very inappropriate behavior and that needs to stop."

Scared to speak up

“Most families are terrified to come forward because they don't want to be blacklisted in the community”

13 Investigates spoke to several parents and staff members who are familiar with the Center Grove investigation. All of them requested anonymity, fearing retribution for sharing their stories publicly.

"Most families are terrified to come forward because they don't want to be blacklisted in the community," explained another Center Grove parent. "They're scared. Kids are scared to say anything. Even the school is terrified of him. He runs his own show and there is no oversight of Coach Moore at all."

The allegations against Moore involve both current and former members of the Center Grove football and track teams, students who have never been coached by Moore, and staff who work for the school district. They include incidents described as bullying and intimidation designed to embarrass or disparage individuals who the coach disagrees with or dislikes. Multiple parents who spoke with 13 Investigates say Moore used vulgar, demeaning language to target their children in front of their peers. Several Center Grove staff members confirmed they witnessed Moore engage in the same type of behavior.

"I can't go to school and call a kid a f----t or a fat a-- and keep my job. I'd be fired on the spot," a staff member told WTHR. "I don't know how he does that and keeps his job."

Other school insiders said the coach is highly critical of talented male athletes who choose to participate in sports other than football and track at Center Grove High School, and that he has threatened and bullied athletes who choose to train with private trainers outside of the school. Moore founded the Center Grove Power Club, and he still oversees the fee-based program operated through Center Grove Schools that claims to have developed "speed, agility, discipline, and mental acuity in hundreds of Center Grove youth for over a decade."

One-week paid leave

Center Grove HS coach Eric Moore is head coach for both the football and boy’s track teams. He also teaches physical education.
Center Grove HS coach Eric Moore is head coach for both the football and boy’s track teams. He also teaches physical education.

Not all allegations against Moore involve his words. WTHR has learned the coach was also investigated for allegations stemming from a 2017 incident involving a football player who Moore allegedly struck in the neck during a practice. Sources close to the investigation told WTHR school administrators did not learn of the incident until they began investigating other allegations against the coach.

"In February 2018, the School Corporation received an allegation that Coach Eric Moore had assaulted an athlete. The School Corporation immediately reported this information to the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services and an investigation was conducted. In the interim, pending the outcome of the CPS investigation, Coach Moore was placed on paid administrative leave," the superintendent explained in response to an open records request from WTHR.

CPS closed its investigation that same month after verbally notifying the school district it found the assault allegation to be unsubstantiated, according to Center Grove Schools. The coach was reinstated on February 27, one week after he was placed on paid leave.

The school district says Moore has not faced any disciplinary action resulting in suspension during his tenure with Center Grove.

Investigation almost complete

Arkanoff told WTHR he has not yet received findings from Duclos' 2-month investigation, but hopes he will receive a final report "sooner than later." School district communications director Stacy Conrad said she expects the investigation to be completed late this week or early next week. It will then be presented to the Center Grove Board of School Trustees.

Center Grove High School. (WTHR Photo)
Center Grove High School. (WTHR Photo)

In the meantime, Conrad said any parent who wants to report a concern about a school staff member should report the information to their school principal. Center Grove Schools also has an anonymous reporting system – accessible by phone, text, e-mail or online – for those who want to report a safety concern without identifying themselves.

WTHR contacted Moore to discuss the investigation and the allegations against him. He has not yet responded to WTHR's requests.

Moore has more than 220 career wins as a high school football coach, including 11 sectional and regional titles and two state championships. His school biography says he was also named 2012 "boys track & field coach of the year" by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Center Grove HS coach Eric Moore celebrates his 200th career with in September 2015. (WTHR Photo)
The stands fill at the Center Grove HS football stadium as fans support their team on Friday nights. (WTHR Photo)
Center Grove head coach Eric Moore, right, hugs quarterback Jordan Luallen after defeating Carmel 36-33 in the IHSAA Class 5A championship football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
The Center Grove HS football team runs drills during a practice on a warm day. (WTHR Photo)
Center Grove HS coach Eric Moore is head coach for both the football and boy’s track teams. He also teaches physical education. (WTHR Photo)
Center Grove Schools District confirmed it hired an independent investigator in response to concerns about Coach Moore.