PENDLETON, Ore. – Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman's daughter-in-law was dismissed as the volunteer track coach at a small Oregon high school after escorting a 17-year-old boy to the prom.
Melissa Bowerman, 41 -- who had been coaching the Condon/Wheeler track and field team with her 73-year-old husband Jon Bowerman -- came under investigation after accompanying the boy to the dance on April 20, Condon School District superintendent Jan Zarate told the East Oregonian.
Zarate and Brad Sperry, the superintendent of Fossil School District, with which Condon co-ops for athletics, later met with Bowerman and informed her that she would no longer be able to work with the team.
"There was an investigation done and through that investigation, there were some potential details that arose," Zarate said. "We started an investigation that led to us asking her to 'un-volunteer.'"
Bowerman told the newspaper that attending the prom was an error in judgment but said no inappropriate relationship existed between her and the student.
She said the student had been feeling down because he did not have a date for the prom and she agreed to go with him if he improved his grade in English class, as he had been struggling with his academics.
The boy's father, Bob Thomas, said Bowerman had been like a "surrogate mom" to his son and other students for years and he had no problem about her escorting him to the prom.
"I wasn't worried about his safety in the least because I knew what kind of relationship they had -- the same she has with all the kids, boys and girls," Thomas said.
Jon Bowerman and other parents are lobbying for the Condon and Fossil school boards to reverse their decision.
According to Gilliam County law enforcement, Bowerman has not committed a crime and will not face any legal ramifications.