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No decision from Smith; O'Donnell suggests Gateway board will decide for him

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 9:57 p.m.
Gateway head coach Terry Smith at summer training camp on Thursday, August 18, 2011. (Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review)

The future of the Gateway athletic department remains in flux, pending a handful of decisions by the school board, the athletic director and a federal agency.

A school board policy that would prohibit the athletic director from being a head coach is scheduled to take effect June 30, at which point school directors would have to fill one or — if varsity football coach and athletic director Terry Smith quits — both of the positions.

Last week, Gateway School Board President Steve O'Donnell said he plans to discuss the future of both positions at a closed personnel meeting next week. O'Donnell said Smith hasn't yet said if he would rather be the football coach or the athletic director next school year.

“Since he's not made the decision, we'll make it for him,” O'Donnell said.

“We gave him the choice to have one or the other. We're not going to change our mind.”

However, Smith said on Monday that he has six months to make his decision, based on a vote by the school board to delay the implementation of the policy until the end of June.

“I got six months to figure it out,” he said, “unless they change something behind closed doors.”

Smith said there is no official deadline for the school board to approve fall coaches but that he submits his recommendations to the school board each year.

Last year, the fall coaches were approved by the school board in March, said district spokeswoman Cara Zanella.

School Director Bob Elms said he's in favor of the new policy. He said parents have said some teams have had to find fields and additional funding without help from Smith.

“(Their) point was that these teams got neglected,” Elms said. “If they wanted something, they had to get it for themselves.”

Smith said the accusation is false.

“That is the furthest from the truth,” he said.

“Call every head coach and ask them. I guarantee you 100 percent, they've never been neglected.”

The school board voted in June to reduce the athletic director position from full-time to part-time status. Smith filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, in October that said the decision was racially motivated.

The EEOC investigation can take up to six months, according to the agency's website. If the complaint is determined to be valid, the EEOC would try to reach a settlement with district officials. If a settlement can't be reached, the case will be referred to the EEOC legal staff, which could pursue legal action.

Smith's attorney, Milton Raiford, said district officials violated Gateway policy by not having an affirmative-action officer in place when the athletic director position was reduced to part-time status.

However, Zanella said the affirmative action officer in place during the budget process last year was Gateway administrator Bob Reger, who at the time was the acting superintendent. The policy states that the superintendent or a designee must “assume the responsibility of coordinating all implementing activities as Affirmative Action Officer.”

Raiford said he is waiting on information from the district that documents conversations regarding Smith between Gateway administrators and school directors at meetings.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or

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