You’re Fired?

In the town west of me, there is a controversy that’s been going on for quite a while.  They have a football team at the high school that has a pretty gruesome record. One of their games in a recent season was a 54-0 loss.

So in 2009, after a few losing seasons with no improvement, the administration voted to fire the football coach. So the football coach turned around and sued the administration for wrongful termination. The court found in favor of Wall, the coach, and the school appealed. Just this week, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the decision, that a win-loss record was not enough justification to terminate the coach.

Some pertinent information:

  • It does not say in any article I could find, but I heard on a radio discussion about this topic that Wall has held his position as the schools Math Teacher throughout this dispute. He was only terminated as the coach.
  • Wall says that he tried to work with some of the suggestions for team improvement provided by the administration, but some were not feasible, like the suggestion to hold off-season weight-training sessions. This activity is against the rules for high school students.
  • Also discussed on the radio was the fact that the school has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K defending itself in this case. This is a public school.

So what do you think? Do you think that a school should have the right to fire a coach from that position based solely on a win/loss record? Or is that just one part of the whole, and his entire ‘coaching picture’ be taken into consideration? (that would mean things like  motivating students, building team spirit, expanding the team, fair play, etc.)

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10 Responses to You’re Fired?

  1. SKL says:

    I have a hard time sometimes with the thinking behind high school sports. They are treated differently from pretty much everything else at school. The logic I’ve heard is that boys’ sports in particular raise money for the school, and therefore deserve special treatment. That said, I guess to some people, it really matters whether the HS football team is winning. As opposed to getting exercise, learning, balancing sports and other aspects of life, following laws and ethics, etc. Sometimes people take it to an extreme. However, even I believe that winning games has to be at least one of the goals of a coach. At least a few games, so the kids at least know what it feels like to win.

    Now if this guy’s record was 54-0, I’m thinking he ought to step aside and let someone else try coaching the team. I would like to know what evidence this guy provided to show that aside from the losses, he was doing a good job of coaching. Or did he simply not have to prove it, because of the union or something like that?

    • Laura says:

      I don’t know what his argument was… I tried to find other articles on the issue, but it’s been going on since ’09, and that stuff isn’t readily available.

      I believe his argument was, essentially, that there’s more to coaching than just winning, because all of the discussion that I’ve heard on the radio has centered around that – that there’s sportsmanship, team management, recruiting, this kind of thing.

      But considering that his record was so bad – I don’t know what the exact win/loss ration was, but it was pretty stinky – I can’t imagine how you’d be able to recruit, and if you’re not recruiting, how can you manage a nonexistent team? how can you teach them sportsmanship?

      And that 54-0 was the score of one football game, against another team out here.

      • SKL says:

        Oh – I did read that 54-0 right, but then I checked a few other things before I answered. I am getting old . . . .

        Still have trouble giving the guy the benefit of the doubt without knowing what he did to actually benefit the team. I mean, if he’d said “I’m not going to bother with winning” during his interview, would he have gotten the coaching job in the first place? It seems to me you do the job you were hired for, or you step aside so someone else can do it.

  2. mssc54 says:

    I’m not sure how it is with this school district but in our school district coaching positions are used as a stypend for teachers pay. This is particularly true with girl’s sports. However, the god of football is normally reserved to the most qualified to produce winning teams. Football is the cash cow of highschool sports. Most often schools try to find the most qualified football coach THEN find a place on the staff for that coach. If a football coach can not put butts in the bleachers the school can not put money in their coffers.

    Sorry but after so many years of losing this so-called coach needs to move on.

  3. Sue says:

    The coach needs to go, sorry. A few years back our high school decided to get rid of the football coach for the same reason. A string of loosing records with the program going nowhere. There were a lot of hoops to jump through, but he never took it to court. No kid likes to be on a loosing team and of course you can’t win all the time, but if the kids aren’t learning anything and not improving season to season then it’s time for a change.

  4. Joy says:

    I’m with everyone else. I know that there’s more to sports than winning but at this level there are a lot of things going on. Not only are the football players maybe vying for colleges and scholarships but you have the same for the cheerleaders and the musicians in the band. All these kids are looking towards college when they’re in high school. Well, a lot of them are. It also brings money in like mssc mentioned. They raise money for the school and the programs they want to keep funding. Kids sell tickets and you’d be surprised how many people it takes to actually pull stuff like this together. If the team isn’t winning, the stands will sit empty and there are just not two ways about it. The community will all jump on the winning teams bandwagon. It’s contagious but if the team does nothing but lose, there’s no money to be made.

    Sad but true. This coach should be fired. It’s not only about winning but at the age, most of these kids aren’t doing it for the warm fuzzy feeling they have for their coach. A lot of these kids are looking ahead to college.

  5. Nikki says:

    We’ve dealt with a coach that just can’t get a team to win. It wasn’t the team, it was the coaching. Jason took basically the same kids and went 8-2, where as this other coach went 2-14. The difference? The coaching. Who do you think these kids want to play for? How much of the community wants to watch a losing team? Where does the money come from? Winning games! It’s a snowball affect, good coaching produces a winning team. A winning team produces money. And in turn, a winning team makes kids want to play even more. That’s the bottom line.

    The coach needs to step down, for the good of the kids. I think it’s selfish for him to fight it and make the school spend THAT much money defending their case!

  6. Phyllis says:

    Time for this coach to give someone else a chance with the team. Is he still teaching Math? If so he’s still got a job, and he shouldn’t have lost his teaching position, just his coaching position. Let’s face it, in any other type of job this abysmal of a performance would cost anyone their position. Where’s the school gotten enough money to pay the legal fees I wonder?

    • Laura says:

      That’s the big problem, Phyllis… the school is in a very small, rural, farming town. They really *don’t* have the money. I’m guessing that it’s coming from insurance, maybe? I really don’t know. But knowing the situation in our town, which is probably twice as big, or bigger, they can’t have all that much money just laying around.

  7. Laura says:

    My view on this is that the coach should be fired. You cannot keep a sports program viable if you are not winning at least some of the time. A losing season or two, yes. But multiple years running, and you start losing recruiting power as your seniors and juniors graduate out, and those fresh/soph kids age up. And if you haven’t been motivating all the way along, you’re not going to be able to get that momentum back. Which means that things like “teaching sportsmanship” are out. Forget recruiting. Around here, if kids are really into a sport, they’ll shop around to find a high school, because for many, that scholarship is their only chance for college. So if the school has a crappy fb team, they’re not going to take that chance, and they’ll open-enroll elsewhere, and drive there.

    I agree that the coach should have been fired – from the program. If he’s a good math teacher, then he should stay there. I also think that the Iowa court of appeals was wrong, and the next appeal (I think there is one, I think the school is taking it higher, now) should uphold the school’s decision. Because today, it’s the football coach. I fear that tomorrow, it will be the English teacher who can’t conjugate, or the Science teacher who doesn’t know what a hypothesis is. And then we’re in real trouble.

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