HALSTEAD, Kan. (KSNW) – A standing ovation Tuesday night as former Halstead Head Basketball Coach Chris Santoya entered the school gym. The team playing its first game since Santoya was fired in late December.

Santoya says he was let go from his duties as coach and school therapist because his therapist license had expired. He claims the district knew it expired, and he was working to get it renewed.

According to Santoya, It all started back in March when he received an email saying that his license had expired. After contacting the licensing agency, he was told by the agency that he was not in the system as a licensed therapist.

Santoya says that he then collected all of his previous emails with the agency, including receipts, and sent them to the agency. This prompted an investigation.

“They then told me in October that they would figure it out. But they needed some more information, more paperwork, and so we sent it to them. They said they’ll then figure it out in December. Come December, they then pushed it back to February. And so that’s where we were two weeks ago when I got terminated with it,” said Santoya.

Superintendent Dr. Ron Barry would not give KSN any details about Santoya’s firing, only that he is no longer serving as a school therapist or a coach in the district.

At Tuesday night’s game against Clearwater, many community members wore T-shirts with “#BBOC,” which stands for “Bring Back Our Coach.”

There is also an online petition to reinstate Santoya as the head coach.

Chris Santoya (KSN Photo)

“I am here to fight for what I believe in. Fight for our team, fight for my family, fight for the kids that are coming up, fight for Halstead. I graduated from here in 2010 and made this place my home, and I don’t want to go anywhere else. I want to coach this team, and I want to grow my family here,” said Santoya.

The superintendent says an assistant coach is leading the program in Santoya’s place.