Pitts steps down as Warriors head basketball coach

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  • ARLEE HIGH School coach Zanen Pitts celebrates with his team after capturing a Divisional Title at Salish Kootenai College. (photo by Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

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    FORMER ARLEE High School coach Zanen Pitts celebrates after his team won its second consecutive Montana High School Association state championship over Manhattan Christian at the Butte Civic Center. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

  • ARLEE HIGH School coach Zanen Pitts celebrates with his team after capturing a Divisional Title at Salish Kootenai College. (photo by Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

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    FORMER ARLEE High School coach Zanen Pitts celebrates after his team won its second consecutive Montana High School Association state championship over Manhattan Christian at the Butte Civic Center. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

Former Arlee High School boys basketball coach Zanen Pitts has resigned from his post with Arlee High School.

Pitts, who coached the Warriors to back-to-back Montana High School Association Class C titles in 2017, and 2018, and guided them to four-consecutive MHSA Class C finals appearances in the previous four years, cited numerous reasons for his resignation sounding off to the 406mtsports.com network’s Frank Gogola.

Pitts declined to elaborate on record to the Lake County Leader in a recent interview about the reasons he cited in the 406mtsports.com behind his resignation for fear of any legal retribution, and a public tirade of the Arlee High School administration in the recent Missoulian article.

Next season, the Warriors, who placed second after falling to Manhattan Christian in the MHSA Class C state basketball finals, will transition from MHSA Class C to MHSA Class B competition.

During his time as a coach, Pitts compiled a 140-18 record in six seasons.

Now also graduated are several of the critical pieces of his team including Phillip Malatare, Lane Johnson, Will Mesteth and Greg Whitesell, four players instrumental in building the team dynasty over the past four seasons to recent graduation.

According to the Missoulian article, on May 1 he was offered a contract for the 2019-20 season to return as the head coach and was unanimously approved by the board, but he opted not to sign the contractual agreement, the Missoulian article stated.

In The Missoulian article, Pitts blasted Arlee Administration on several occasions, and it prompted the administration to respond publicly to Pitt’s criticism of the school district.

“They threatened to fire me and they told me to go different places,” he told the Missoulian and the 406mtsports.com network. “I don’t want to coach anywhere else. It doesn’t even interest me. I literally love Arlee.”

Pitts expounded in his interview with the Missoulian stating:

“But I don’t want you guys to look at me and think that I’m dissing on you or I’m leaving you. They destroyed me and my family. It’s been the hardest seven years of my life. That’s why I wanted you first to know that if it wasn’t for our solid, awesome family and your support, we wouldn’t be able to be here now.”

The Arlee District issued a public statement citing details of various alleged objections, in the recent Missoulian article.

“Normally, the District would not comment on why an employee is leaving, but the false information provided by Mr. Pitts requires a response,” but failed to mention what was false.

“Mr. Pitts chose to blame the administration for his departure, and to make derogatory comments about school staff who have attempted to hold him accountable during his tenure as a basketball coach,” Baldwin said. “For several years, and through many administrators, the District has addressed Mr. Pitts’ misconduct both formally and informally, with varying degrees of success. Public school districts are required to follow federal and state rules regarding equity in high school sports, and the Montana High School Association enforces additional rules regarding benefits to student-athletes.

“Mr. Pitts was reprimanded formally and informally for violating these rules, and he continued to disregard the direction of the administrators who were tasked with addressing his misconduct. Most recently, Mr. Pitts had a violent outburst in another school’s locker room and destroyed the school’s property. This incident reflected poorly on the Arlee School District and boys’ basketball program, and the District was obligated to reimburse the other school for the vandalism. The District charged Mr. Pitts with the cost it incurred for his violent outburst, and he expressed significant dissatisfaction with that decision.”

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