Bethel-Tate football fans will need to wait a little while longer to learn the name of the 2010-2011 varsity coach, and some community members think the wait could jeopardize the team’s performance.
The district has been in need of a new coach since Clint Kirker was placed on paid administrative leave in October 2009 while he was under investigation for an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship with a student. Kirker was put on unpaid administrative leave in January pending action from the Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Education.
As summer conditioning approaches community members are looking to the board of education to name a successor. High school principal Kimberley McGuire formed a committee of community members to interview seven potential candidates.
"Time is of the essence," district advocate Scott Hobart said on behalf of the interview committee. "We are burning daylight here and the coach we recommended could turn the program on tomorrow morning. He'll get these kids off the street, get them back in the weight room, get them back in condition and get them back in front of a chalkboard and right now we're not doing that."
Hobart said district superintendent James Smith was given the information immediately following the meeting and he would like to see the team preparing for the season as other schools in the district have been.
"The other football teams in the area have spring practices and they're out there working, and they're out there conditioning and they're doing all they can and we're back here, yet again, still spinning our wheels on this," Hobart said. "It's not helping the kids, it's not helping the community."
The Board said at their April 19 regular meeting that they needed time to review the recommendations of the committee and were not prepared to vote on the issue that night.
"We have not as a board had a chance to discuss this among ourselves since the committee have made their recommendations," board president Mark Rose said. "We do not feel tonight that we will be prepared to have a vote on this issue so we did not put it on the agenda."
The board said they want to be sure they make the right decision and hire a coach that will build a program and be a member of the community for the long term.
Hobart expressed concerns that the board may disregard the committee's recommendation despite what he described as a very thorough interview process based on a similar process he developed for use at Procter and Gamble.
"I'm not representing any candidate, but I want to remind the board as you go into executive session tonight, the community asked seven of us to donate our time...Those are seven pretty good minds in that room," Hobart said. "We went through this very open and honest process and we came up with a name. It's my understanding that the board doesn't like the name we came up with."
Hobart also expressed concerns that the board may have additional information about the candidates that was not provided to the committee.
"I'm telling you on behalf of the committee, there was a very strong recommendation for one particular candidate and I've heard bits and pieces since our meeting that that might not be the right decision," Hobart said. "If there is a cloud hanging over any of the candidates that we don't know about, that should have been brought to us, that should have been part of the process."
Board member Pam Sandker said not sharing information with the committee may have been an oversight, but she wanted to ensure the right coach for the Tigers is hired. A coach that will stay in the community and build the program.
"I understand why you're saying we should have given you our feedback and shame on us for not doing that, but I've been through three football coach hires and I need to talk about this with everybody else before a decision is made and we just haven't done that," Sandker said. "Maybe we should have met last week when we got the results, I don't know."
Hobart said the candidate chosen for recommendation by the committee significantly out-shined the other six candidates and the lack of negative feedback on the recommended coach was taken into account.
"You've got to do what you've got to do, but I'm just telling you as a person in the community that worked awful hard to make sure that this was as good a decision as could have been made, weighing in lots of factors it will be very disappointing if that's ignored," Hobart said.
Hobart said the four other candidates that were interview do not live in the state and do not have assistant coaches or a program in mind.
"If we select anyone else but the person we recommended I think it's going to put the football program back not a couple weeks, but a couple months," Hobart said. "We potentially are going to lose next season if we can't get this thing rolling."
Rose said that while a coach would not be named April 19, one would be named very soon.
"It will be this month," Rose said. "It's a very sensitive, very important topic for a large part of the community and for the board. We want to take every opportunity we can to look at the candidates."