Felt school board doesn't renew coach's contract
by C.F. David
On Monday, March 8, the Felt School board, after an Executive Session, with a four to one vote decided not to renew the coaching contract of basketball coach Andrew McClung. According to minutes of the meeting, McClung was retained as a probationary teacher while nixing his coaching position.
According to Felt's Superintendent of Schools, Jeff Funk, McClung's teaching duties include, Health, P.E. and Driver's Education.
Funk, bound by the confidentiality of the Executive Session, could not and would not give any reason for the board decision. Likewise Funk could not reveal if he did or didn't support McClung for rehire.
Though it isn't exactly clear what precipitated the coaching change; a losing season doesn't seem to be the problem. McClung's girl Bulldog squad finished the 2003-04 season at 21-6 with a Class B district win.
When contacted, McClung, who has made plans to coach girls basket ball at Class A Mooreland next year,put the blame on a coach's bane: unhappy parents.
“I've never been given a reason. [for the decision not to renew his contract] But I'm going to coach at Mooreland next year.”
McClung said he realized he had made some parents angry early in his first season. “I told them [the team members] they, would have to earn a position in practice, ”McClung said. “Players missed practices and I benched them. I'm now in the third year of competition, and it's the same old story...a few board members aren't happy that I'm not playing their children,” McClung said.
According to McClung the problem has accelerated to the point that his vehicle and front yard have been vandalized.
“They've thrown stuff on my truck; beer bottles into my front yard,” McClung said.
“...I'm going to coach at Mooreland next year.”- Andrew McClung
“This had nothing to do with job performance. We, (he and wife April who helps him coach) planned to stay on for several years. This has probably been the most successful sports program in Felt in perhaps 20 years.”
“We didn't want to stay because Felt is the most beautiful place on earth. We wanted to stay because of the good kids we have here. All things aside, these kids [Felt ISD] are amazing.”
“Our track team is rolling, our girls golf team just won their own tournament.”
“We have freshman and sophomore athletes being written by colleges,” he said proudly. “What these kids have accomplished...I wouldn't trade one of them.”
Some of McClung's athletes decided to draw up a petition asking that the board have another hearing and to reconsider their decision. When asked if he had influenced that decision, McClung said no.
“A couple of them came and asked what they could do. I told them it [the decision] was out of my hands,” McClung said.
One of the petition's organizers, Freshman Marla Tevabaugh, backed McClung's statement.
“No he didn't ask us to write the petition. We just asked him that if we fought for him and they changed their minds if he'd stay. He said he'd stay and we wrote the petition,” she said.
The petition drew more than 100 names according to Superintendent Funk. However, Funk continued that some of the signatures came from outside the community. In any case, in honoring the petition, the Felt School Board scheduled a public hearing from March 30.
According to Funk, several individuals, adults and youth, spoke up in defense of McClung at the public hearing.
“About 40 people spoke and there were a lot of really positive comments,” Funk said. “There are some people who don't want him to leave.
“It was humbling...it was ever humbling,” McClung said. “We had about 40 people stand up and speak in our behalf; and about four stood up and said “...we ought to support the school board.”
“Never in my life have I ever received the amount of compliments that I got that night,” McClung said.
According to Funk, two motions at the hearing died for lack of a second, one asking that the board go back into Executive Session to discuss the decision again. The second motion was to rehire McClung for the 2004-05 season. It too died on the floor.