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‘Doesn’t seem fair’: Parents seek answers after Basic coach’s dismissal

Mark Giles remembers exactly what time Wednesday he got the email from Basic Academy principal Gerald Bustamante saying baseball coach Scott Baker was “no longer with the team.”

“9:18 a.m.,” Giles, the father of sophomore outfielder Andruw Giles, recalled.

Why?

“Because everybody started calling me, asking me questions. My phone was blowing up after,” Mark Giles said.

Giles and other parents have had many questions for the school about Baker’s surprise dismissal. But they say they’ve received no answers.

“They didn’t say why,” Mark Giles said. “We asked questions — why he was let go or why he was fired or what’s going on — and the principal’s answer has been, ‘I can’t speak. That’s a personal issue with the coach.’”

Basic officials have not returned a call seeking comment.

On the field Thursday, the Wolves (17-3), No. 2 in the Review-Journal’s Class 5A rankings, rolled to a 14-6 road win over Spring Valley (7-13) in their first game since Baker’s dismissal.

Assistant coach Gino DiMaria, who started as an assistant at Basic last season after being Bishop Gorman’s coach from 2015 to 2022, was named the Wolves’ interim coach.

“I’m happy they came out and decided to come out and play,” DiMaria said. ‘They’re a tight family right now, and so I’m not worried about their focus. They’re focused right now, and they want to play, they want to continue going on, and they want to continue to win.”

DiMaria said the last two days have “been different,” and declined to comment further on the coaching change.

“I just want to be there, finish the season with these kids. That’s what I want to do,” DiMaria said. “I don’t want to leave them with nothing, and so I wanted to step in and finish the season.”

The message in the email to parents from Bustamante, which a Clark County School District spokesperson provided to the RJ, read:

“Coach Baker is no longer with the team. Effective immediately, Coach Gino Dimaria will take over as the interim coach. We understand that a change in staff is always difficult and a change midseason can be challenging. However, we are confident in Coach Dimaria in leading our student athletes for the remainder of the season and quickly establishing an environment that can continue the success they have had thus far.

“I understand there will be questions surrounding the change, however, I am unable to discuss personnel matters. We want to thank Coach Baker for the time and efforts he put into Basic Academy Baseball and wish him the best moving forward.”

In parts of 13 seasons as Basic’s coach, Baker was 295-108-1 and led the Wolves to state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2022. Baker’s dismissal came the same day that Bishop Gorman announced coach Chris Sheff was suspended and the program was under investigation.

There is no indication Baker’s dismissal and Sheff’s suspension are related.

Chris Evans, father of Basic sophomore Lincoln Evans, said he didn’t receive the email from the school because his son is home-schooled, but still zoned to attend Basic. He said he had to learn secondhand from other parents about the situation.

“What’s happening to them is absolutely disgusting. It should make you sick to your stomach,” Chris Evans said.

Mark Giles said parents asked Bustamante about the decision at a junior varsity game Wednesday, but said they received no answers.

“He says, ‘I’m not going to speak on personal issues with the coach,’” Giles recalled.

Mark Giles said he’s spoken with Baker several times since the announcement, and said Baker wasn’t given a reason for the change.

“(Baker) asked the principal what he was being fired for, and they said they’re just going a different way,” Giles said. “That was the answer he got and never told him what happened or what was going on or anything.”

Nicole Amsden’s son Stone is a freshman on the team. She said the last two days have been a “roller coaster of emotions.”

“I feel like they’re not doing anything to help these kids. … I feel like the school has given up on (Baker) and the kids. It just doesn’t seem fair,” she said.

Chris Evans said his priority is making sure the players are all right. He said he hopes the team can play the season out and compete for a state title.

“They’re on an hour-by-hour basis,” he said. “The biggest thing is to try and take care of each other right now, because it’s very mentally tough to have your whole world changed in a day like that. They care a lot about each other. The game plan right now is just to make sure they’re all OK.”

Mark Giles said he believes this has brought the team closer together in its goal to win a state title.

“As close as this team was before this happened, it united them even more on their goal,” he said. “They’re not trying to win state for themselves this year. Now, they’re trying to win it for Baker.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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