Soccer head coach resignation in the spotlight

Morgan’s resignation questioned at December school board meeting

Meghan Kiefer

During the Dec. 10 school board meeting, several parents and students expressed their thoughts to the board about the resignation of boys’ soccer head coach Craig Morgan. This topic is the source of much controversy within the Freedom Area School District, specifically with those involved in the high school boys’ soccer team. The dissension surrounds the events that led to Morgan’s resignation.

As Morgan announced that he would be resigning from his coaching post, some felt that his stepping down felt odd and forced.

“I was told by [Athletic Director John Rosa] that after the season, something was going to happen with the coaching job. I took that to mean they were going to open up the job— which is a nice way of firing someone— so, I resigned,” Morgan said.

At the school board meeting, parents, community members and players all voiced their opinions on this situation. One parent, Jackie Rose, voiced the community’s confusion about the process of Morgan’s resignation and she also addressed the rumor that Morgan was forced to resign.

“My concern is who and why some decisions are being made and are these decisions being made [unbiasedly]. I understand Coach Morgan was told that he upset the wrong individuals,” Rose said.

Junior Jarrett Boyd also spoke, highlighting Morgan’s and assistant coach Rick Sharpless’s service and bond with the players. Sharpless will follow Morgan in his resignation, as is the usual practice of assistant coaches when a head coach resigns. “It is a shame to lose one of the things that make Freedom a great school,” Boyd said.

After the parents and students spoke, Morgan entered the meeting, requesting that the board disregard his resignation, which received a standing ovation from the community members. The school board then went into executive session to discuss the issue.

Board member Alan Colorito made a motion after the executive session to open the coaching position, which was seconded by board member Harry Gilarno. The board took a roll call vote that passed the motion in a 7-2 decision.Board secretary Lorraine Rocco spoke later on behalf of the board.

“It was the end of his three one-year contracts. Coach Morgan is more than welcome to apply for the position,” Rocco said.

According to Athletic Director John Rosa, the district process for coach contracts is multifaceted. Each coach has three one-year contracts. The job position is reviewed every year, but the salary contract lasts three years. Each coach is required to submit a post-season report that includes, among other things, the coach’s desire to return to the position the following year. The Athletic Director conducts an end-of-season evaluation and meets with the coach to discuss the evaluation.

Morgan indicated in his post-season report that he was undecided as to whether or not he would return to his coaching position, Rosa explained. When Rosa met with Morgan for his evaluation, Morgan reportedly informed Rosa that he was resigning. Rosa said that, by the time of the school board meeting, the board was ready to act on Morgan’s resignation letter before Morgan himself came to the meeting and rescinded it. Because the board was prepared to vote on opening the coaching position, they went through with their original agenda. Rosa spoke positively of Morgan.

“[Morgan] is a good man and a great coach,” Rosa said.

High School Principal William Deal stressed some of the key parts of this process. According to Deal, the athletic director evaluation is based on many factors, including performance, whether or not the team had the best record that it was capable of based on the team’s talent, coach-parent communication, the coach’s experience with the sport and the coach’s overall professionalism. At the end of each contract year, the Extracurricular Committee, which is made up of school board members, considers the coach and makes a recommendation to the board on whether or not to open up the coaching position for the following year. The coach is told what recommendation will be made before the school board meeting where it would be announced. The board considers this recommendation and votes to make the final decision.

“An open position means that new applications will be accepted. The coach is also able to re-apply to the position,” Deal said.

Both coaching positions will remain open until interviews are conducted and a candidate is recommended to the school board for approval.

“An open position means that new applications will be accepted. The coach is also able to re-apply to the position,” Deal said.

Both coaching positions will remain open until interviews are conducted and a candidate is recommended to the school board for approval.