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Gymnastics coach on leave after tattoo citations

By Scott Wente and Chad Richardson

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. -- Park High School’s head gymnastics coach was placed on a paid leave of absence after he was criminally cited for tattooing minors without written parental consent.

Terry Robert Hardy, 37, of Hastings, told Hastings police he had received verbal permission to tattoo the teens, but police and parents dispute that.

Hardy was mailed two misdemeanor citations last week. The paid leave was effective Thursday, Hardy said in an interview. He did not coach at Park’s meet Thursday night.

“When the district learned of it, he was put on leave immediately,” said Barb Brown, South Washington County Schools’ communications coordinator.

Hardy was put on leave pending further investigation. Brown did not disclose details or a timeline of that investigation. She said assistant coaches were helping with the team in Hardy’s absence.

Hardy also was fired from a separate position as head of the school district Community Education’s youth gymnastics program.

In a phone interview, Hardy said he did not want to discuss the issue, but did say he wants to continue coaching. He said he doesn’t know how long his leave of absence may last.

“I’ll always wish my girls the best of luck,” he said of the team.

It’s Hardy’s first year as Wolfpack head coach. He took over after co-coaching the past couple of years with longtime Park coach Mark Sikich, who stepped down.

The tattoo incidents occurred last summer. Some details were not immediately clear, including whether the teens who were tattooed are gymnasts and specifically when the incidents occurred.

One of the teens, a 16-year-old girl, received three tattoos from Hardy. One is on her wrist and reads “Strength.” Another was done on her shoulder blade, and a cross was done on her neck.

State law requires that anyone under 18 must have written parental consent to receive a tattoo.