Board president: Gateway football staff's jobs safe

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If Gateway football coach Terry Smith and his seven assistants are worried that their jobs are in jeopardy less than two months before players report to camp, board president Dave Magill wants to put those concerns to rest.

"I'm surprised you called me on it," Magill said. "I believe (the hiring of the staff) is going to fly through (at tonight's school board meeting). I can't believe (Smith) would even think differently."

The board has tabled the hirings three times because of questions raised by board members. Magill said one member wanted to know what "an assistant to an assistant" meant.

"The questions that were asked were answered," he said. "It's back on the agenda. I am only one vote, but from what I can gather from the other board members, I see no problems. They got what they asked for."

Smith has been the coach at Gateway for the past seven seasons, and he has led the team to three WPIAL title games, including the past two.

But he works on a one-year coaching contract and was concerned with the delays. He also was troubled by a statement he said board member Scott Williams made earlier this year.

"Four or five months ago," Smith said, "Scott Williams came to me and said the board feels you have too much power and control and that you are untouchable and they want to take that from you. What am I to think when I get that message?"

Magill said he disagrees with that perception.

"That wouldn't be a fair statement — not as long as (superintendent) Cleveland Stewart is driving the boat," he said. "(Smith) is controlled by (high school principal) Bill Short and Cleveland Stewart, and if you knew Cleveland, you know that wouldn't be true."

Williams, who said he's "tight" with Smith, said, "I might have said that. I'm not 100 percent sure. That conversation was a long time ago."

Asked if some board members think Smith has too much power, Williams said, "I can't speak for the other board members." Asked if he believes Smith has too much power, Williams said, "No."

Another area of contention for Smith is the district's proposal to cut $200,000 from the budget by eliminating six positions, including the post of inventory control/facility manager, which has been held by Kevin Sanders for the past two years. Sanders is responsible for purchasing, monitoring and repairing athletic equipment and managing the district's facilities.

Board vice president William Bailey said he would like to see if the duties can be spread less expensively among several district employees. He said he hasn't decided how he will vote.

"I have to see if there is value added to the district by eliminating that position," he said.

Smith, who serves as Gateway's athletic director under a separate contract, said he presented the board with a proposal to rearrange the athletic budget and save Sanders' job.

"There are things in there, like certain programs we were going to eliminate," Smith said. "The biggest (savings) chunk would come from reorganizing our ticket-sale policy. We give a lot of free tickets away; Lord knows."

Smith said he wanted to meet with the board prior to tonight's meeting.

"But I was told the board didn't want to meet with me," he said.

Butler hires Clement

Butler hired former major-league pitcher Matt Clement as its boys basketball coach.

Clement, who pitched nine seasons in the majors, played baseball and basketball at Butler in the 1990s.

The 34-year-old last pitched in the majors for the Boston Red Sox in 2006 before shoulder problems ended his career. He had his best season in 2005, going 13-6 with a 4.57 ERA for the Red Sox and making the AL All-Star team.

Clement won 10 or more games five times, going 14-12 for the Cubs in 2003. He ended his career with an 87-86 record for the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins and Red Sox.

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