Eden Prairie coach David Flom found himself in familiar territory Monday night, hearing players' sneakers squeaking on the basketball court during practice.
Flom was reinstated as boys basketball coach by the Eden Prairie school district Monday after being suspended Dec. 8 over a racial slur he read to players from a social media post.
"I'm happy to be back and that I was reinstated," Flom said when reached by phone after practice. "It was exciting to be at practice and working with the kids again."
An email sent to players, parents and alumni indicated Flom read the slur aloud during a classroom session with players and assistant coaches. The focus of the session was responsible use of social media.
During the suspension, Flom retained his position as an elementary school teacher in the district, where he has taught and coached since 2006. The National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2020, Flom has a career record of 390-156.
Flom's suspension raised the question of whether an educator ever can be permitted to use a racial slur as part of teaching.
"There are different views on the use of racial slurs in learning environments," Tia Sheree Gaynor, associate professor of leadership and management at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said in December. "Some may believe that no matter the situation and no matter the person, there is never a place to say a racial slur in a learning environment. I don't know if I am all the way there.
"However, if it is to be done in the classroom or other learning environments there are many things to consider before doing so. … Why did the coach feel comfortable enough to say the racial slur? And perhaps more important, what did it bring to the lesson to include the use of the slur?"
Dirk Tedmon, executive director of marketing and communications for Eden Prairie Schools, said by email that state law prohibited him from providing details except that the investigation of Flom was complete and that Flom had returned to coaching the team.
"We appreciate everyone's understanding of the importance of conducting a thorough investigation," he wrote. "We listened to multiple perspectives, and hope some learning comes out of this difficult time.
"We are so proud of our players and interim coaches for how they have responded to changes this season and for their commitment to each other, and we will continue helping our players reach their full potential as individuals and as a team."
Former Gophers player Trevor Mbakwe, assistant coach and assistant activities director, served as the Eagles' interim coach during the suspension.
Since Flom was suspended, two players have left the team. One was guard Joey Flom, David Flom's son. The other was standout forward Chiddi Obiazor, who graduated early and headed to Kansas State, where he has signed to play football.
Flom was suspended following a season-opening 83-59 victory over St. Cloud Tech. The Eagles (8-5) went 7-5 in his absence and fell out of Minnesota Basketball News' Class 4A rankings.
The Eagles host Wayzata in a Lake Conference game at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Trojans (10-3) are ranked No. 6 in Class 4A.