Share This Page

West Mifflin seeks change in girls basketball

After 19 seasons, 381 victories, five appearances in the WPIAL championship game and one WPIAL title, Phil Shar appears to be out as the girls basketball coach at West Mifflin.

Shar said he was summoned to a meeting Wednesday with West Mifflin athletic director Scott Stephenson and high school principal Dr. Mark Hoover in which he was told the school district was opening his position to other applicants.

Shar, 62, said he was told the decision was coming "straight from (superintendent Patrick A. Risha)."

"I was told Mr. Risha wants you to know your job is being opened up. To me, I heard I was fired."

Shar said he was not given a reason. Stephenson and Hoover did not respond to repeated attempts for comment, and Risha was not available.

"I think what was done is ridiculous," said Shar, who said he already had organized the summer basketball program. "The only section champion at West Mifflin this year was girls basketball and they fired the coach."

He said he had minimal problems with parents of the players.

"I had a lot of great kids, a lot of great parents and a great community," he said. "I guess I can reapply and I am thinking about it, but I think it is kind of useless."

Shar had been concerned about his job security after West Mifflin Federation of Teachers ratified a contract extension that includes a provision that makes it difficult for retired teachers to work as coaches. Shar retired as a math teacher at West Mifflin in 2003.

But the provision was not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2012, according to WMFT president Thomas Ruffing.

Shar is leaving behind a legacy of success.

West Mifflin, which was 20-8 last season, has played in the past two WPIAL title games, losing to New Castle, 54-47, in 2007, and Hampton, 45-41, in 2008. It also has won the past four section championships. Shar's 381 victories include a 204-40 mark in section games.

With four starters returning next season, the news of Shar's ouster was not well-received during an announcement in the high school. Rising senior Jesse Pitts said she was in tears.

"He pushed us hard," said Pitts, who averaged 11.0 points per game as a junior. "He wasn't a clown coach. He was always there to make us work harder and harder each and every day. He helped us with our schoolwork, too. He was always right behind us, making sure our grades were right.

"I was crying. It's going to be very hard."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.