A former all-conference player has been reinstated to the Hinsdale South High School basketball team, his mother said, after she filed a federal lawsuit to get him back on the court.

The next question is how much Brendan Savage will get to play after alleging retaliation for filing a complaint against his former coach. After being cut during tryouts this year, Savage is expected to be able to practice Wednesday and play by Friday night, his mother Erin Savage said.

“This has been incredibly unfair and unjust,” she said.

Savage, a senior, had started on the varsity team the past two seasons, but last school year, after tendinopathy limited his practice time, he filed a complaint that he was pressured by his coach, Michael Moretti.

Officials at Hinsdale South, which is in Darien, investigated Moretti for “verbal abuse, bullying (and) humiliation,” according to the lawsuit, and later demoted him from varsity coach to freshman basketball coach.

District investigators described Moretti’s interaction with Savage’s son as “inappropriate and inconsistent with the high standards of professionalism expected of all (district) employees,” according to a June 2023 letter from then-acting Superintendent Chris Covino to Savage and her husband contained in court records.

The district did not find that Moretti’s actions constituted bullying, the letter said.

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The letter further directed Savage and her husband to notify the investigator immediately “if you or (your son) experience any retaliation as a result of your complaint.”

This month, Savage’s son tried out but was not chosen for the varsity basketball team. The team is now coached by Michael Belcaster, whom the complaint describes as a “close personal friend” of Moretti.

The suit was filed Nov. 22 against the Hinsdale Township District 86 Board of Education and various officials, including Belcaster. The district’s spokesman, Chris Jasculca, said the district does not comment about pending litigation.

Erin Savage said she has six children who’ve played numerous sports at the school, and she never complained about a coach until this time.

“It’s a sport, deal with whatever the coach dishes out within reason, but this guy crossed the line,” she said. “You don’t want anybody else going through this.”

rmccoppin@chicagotribune.com

ckubzansky@chicagotribune.com



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