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Forum Communications Co., Published June 15 2012

Minn. high school golf coach charged with providing alcohol to team after state tourney

A Hermantown High School assistant golf coach has been charged in Scott County, Minn. Court with providing beer and wine coolers to some of the team players in their hotel rooms early Thursday morning.

Kyle Gordan Ernst, 26, a former Hermantown High School golfer himself, is facing one count of gross misdemeanor furnishing alcohol to someone under the age of 21.

Some members of the boys’ and girls’ golf teams from Hermantown were staying in Shakopee after playing the state high school golf tournament in nearby Jordan.

Ernst was booked into the Scott County Jail and released later Thursday morning.

Reached at home Thursday night, Ernst told the News Tribune he had no comment on the incident.

According to the criminal complaint filed Friday morning by the Scott County Attorney’s Office, as reported by the Shakopee Patch website:

Just before 3 a.m. Thursday a Shakopee police officer was inside a Cub Foods store and noticed a male and three females near the lottery machine. A store employee went over to make sure the age of the male purchasing tickets was at least 18 and then came back and told the officer that, although the man was 18, he smelled like alcohol.

The officer was going to approach the man who was leaving when another employee told him a fifth member of the party was still in the store. The officer then spoke to that boy, a 17-year-old, whose eyes were watery and bloodshot. The teen admitted he had a couple of beers and was given a breath test which detected he had been drinking. The teen then told the officer he was with his team for the high school state golf tournament staying at the nearby Country Inn and Suites hotel.

The officer drove the teen to the hotel, and the teen led the officer to his room. The officer saw the man who had been at Cub Foods earlier coming out of a room, smelled alcohol on his breath and gave him a breath test, which detected he had been drinking. There were two other males in the hotel room who had not been drinking.

When the officer knocked at the coach's hotel door, no one answered. The officer then knocked on a hotel room door where three girls on the team were staying and Ernst exited, shutting the door behind him. The officer informed Ernst two of his golfers had been drinking alcohol. Ernst appeared very nervous and shaky and the officer noticed Ernst smelled like alcohol.

According to the complaint, Ernst told police that many members of the golf team were upset about losing the state tournament by one stroke and admitted he went to the store and purchased wine coolers and beer for them. Another officer escorted Ernst to his room where a breath test indicated his alcohol level at .064.

Ernst was placed under arrest, and officers then knocked again on the door to the girls’ room, and when the lone female in the room answered the door, the officer smelled alcohol. The female, 17, also failed a breath test and the officer noticed multiple empty beer cans in the room.

Ernst told police that he bought two 12-packs of beer – one for the team, one for the coaches – along with some wine coolers. He also said he drank a couple beers with the other coach and then went to the girls’ room where the team had gathered. He said he was in there for several hours while he and the team drank beer.

The complaint further says surveillance video from a Kwik Trip convenience store shows Ernst buying $62 of alcohol, including Bud Light, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Michelob Golden Light. After paying for it, police say the video shows the clerk helping him carry the items to a blue van.

According to the Shakopee Patch website, Police said they also wrote tickets for underage alcohol consumption in connection with the incident. Those cited include an 18-year-old Duluth man, a 16-year-old boy from Duluth and a 17-year-old Hermantown girl.

Hermantown was participating in the Minnesota State Golf Tournament in Jordan this week, finishing second as a team in Class AA Wednesday.