Sarsland resigns from Elk River hockey post

by Jim Boyle


Elk River High School hockey coach Tony Sarsland has resigned, short-circuiting a closed meeting to discuss the findings of an investigation into allegations made against him.

The Elk River Area School Board was scheduled to go into a closed session on Monday night (April 9) for preliminary consideration of allegations, and then consider possible action related to the hockey coach for the 2012-13 school year.T

It would have been the School Board’s first chance to hear the findings of the district’s recently completed investigation into complaints made against the controversial coach with 588 wins.

Tony Sarsland

Sarsland abruptly resigned from his coaching position on Feb. 10 shortly after allegations against him surfaced,  but he rescinded his resignation before the board had chance to act on it.

Sarsland returned to his teaching position, but the district did not grant Sarsland’s request to return to the team. He was kept on paid administrative leave while it was investigating the allegations.  Ben Gustafson, who played for Sarsland a decade ago and was a junior varsity coach this year, served as the interim coach.

The effort to permanently replace Sarsland will begin tomorrow (April 10), according to Rod Barnes, the school district’s director of human resources.

Sarsland, one of the most prominent prep coaches in the state, was known for his black, western-style attire and gruff, old-school methods.

He won his 500th game in January of 2006 at Elk River Arena amid much fanfare, and was closing in on 600. His final mark is 588-277-26 in 27 seasons. Only three coaches in the state (two retired) have won over 600.

In the past 15 seasons, he took six teams to state tournaments with one championship, in 2001, and won or shared 12 conference titles.