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story.lead_photo.caption FILE PHOTO Fort Smith Northside boys basketball coach Eric Burnett has taken a leave of absence from the team. Burnett guided the Grizzlies to the Class 7A state championship last season.

SPRINGDALE -- Fort Smith Northside boys basketball coach Eric Burnett is no longer coaching the Grizzlies.

Burnett, who guided the program to the Class 7A state championship last season, has not coached the team since late December.

Darren McKinney, the athletic director and student activities director for Fort Smith Public Schools, did not give any specifics as to why Burnett is no longer coaching the team.

"Eric has taken a temporary leave of absence," McKinney said. "He could be back at some point if the issue is resolved."

McKinney said Burnett is still employed by the school district and that he took his leave of absence right before Christmas.

Burnett did not return phone calls Monday from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Northside assistant coach Greg Scott has taken over head coaching duties for the Grizzlies (12-6, 3-1 7A-Central), who host Cabot tonight in a conference game. Scott, a former Fort Smith Southside player, has been a Northside assistant for four years. He previously was the head girls basketball coach at Lincoln.

Scott said via Facebook message that the team is dealing with the situation the best it can in the interim.

"As far as our team, the players are coming in and working hard every day to get better," Scott said. "Our routine has not changed. They are staying focused and taking it a game at a time."

Burnett was selected by the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as the Division I Coach of the Year after he led the Grizzlies to the Class 7A state championship with 50-49 victory over North Little Rock. Burnett graduated in 1989 from Northside, where he was an all-state basketball player. He graduated in 1994 from Arkansas Tech, where he is the school's all-time leader in made 3-pointers with 354.

Burnett was the head coach at Fort Smith Southside from 2001-2005 and Springdale Har-Ber from 2006-2010.

Sports on 01/23/2018

Print Headline: Basketball: Burnett takes leave of absence for Northside

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