MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/AP) – A highly successful small-town football coach in mid-Michigan who authorities say sent sexually explicit images to boys has been sentenced to six months in jail.

Isabella County Chief Judge Paul Chamberlain on Thursday also ordered 46-year-old Lou Rau of Beal City to serve four years of probation.

The former varsity football coach, who resigned as he was investigated, apologized in court. He said that he “treated my players like friends” and blurred the line between adult and teenager.

Rau in July pleaded no contest to distributing obscene materials to children and furnishing alcohol to a minor. Other charges were dropped.

The case came as a shock at tiny Beal City High School, 80 miles north of Lansing, when the details emerged earlier this year.

The school launched an investigation after receiving complaints from parents on Jan. 5. After digging around, authorities said they discovered that Rau had “engaged in unprofessional conduct” that included “inappropriate communication with student-athletes, including, but not limited to, sending pornographic material to minors.”

The allegations involved five boys who were players at one time. Rau sent them a range of images, from one to 70, and also supplied sex toys, according to court records.

Rau resigned via text message in January after being confronted by school officials.

Rau, a Beal City graduate, took the Aggies to five state championship games, winning one in 2009. He became football coach in 2000.

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