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Interim Gateway AD to take helm, while future is discussed

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:46 p.m.

An interim athletic director at Gateway will fill the vacant position for now, and finances will determine whether the job is restored to full-time status, said Gateway Superintendent Nina Zetty.

“The budget will again drive the district's decision to return to a full-time AD or direct us to consider a creative, less-expensive approach to managing athletics,” Zetty said in a written statement. “This decision will have to occur before we advertise for (candidates to fill) the position.”

Former athletic director and football coach Terry Smith last week accepted a coaching job at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Citing a tight budget, the school board voted 7-2 in June to reduce the athletic director's position to 20 hours a week for the 2012-13 school year. Smith's supporters said the change was done to force Smith out of the district, and they asked officials about the future of the position.

“Are you (school board members) going to reverse your decision now that Terry Smith is gone and make it a full-time job again?” said Monroeville resident Sasha Craig at a Jan. 23 school board meeting.

“That's what we need to know.”

Two days later, Zetty wrote in an email that it is uncertain if the athletic director position will be restored to a full-time position next school year.

As for an interim athletic director this school year, Zetty said last week the district had zeroed in on a retired, experienced athletic director for the position. Until someone is hired, high school Principal Bill Short said that he intends to work with a school counselor to help families deal with college athletics recruiters who are interested in Gateway students.

Meanwhile, a special audit committee last week unveiled a plan to more clearly define district policies concerning the athletic department. The committee is made up of school directors Skip Drumheller, Steve O'Donnell and Bob Elms.

If the plan is approved, every item bought by the athletic department throughout the school year would be monitored by district officials, followed by an inventory taken at the end of each school year, Drumheller said. Elms said that some pieces of athletic equipment are unaccounted for because there is no formal inventory policy in place.

“Implementation of these action items will bring transparency and accountability during these difficult financial times,” Drumheller said last week.

According to the plan, the new athletic director still would answer to the high school principal, and both the principal and athletic director still would be responsible for confirming that student-athletes live in the district and are academically eligible to play sports.

The difference, according to Drumheller, is that the chain of command would be more clearly defined.

“It's making it more structurally solid on who's doing what,” Drumheller said.

Action items proposed by the committee include the following:

• Each school year, coaching contracts would be re-evaluated based on coaches' performance, conduct and job description satisfaction.

• Accounting procedures would be incorporated into regulations for the athletic department. Spot checks may be conducted randomly by administrators for accountability verification.

• Athletic contracts would be reviewed and competitive quotes would be done regularly, as determined by the Gateway Board of School Directors.

• A three-year strategic plan would be developed for the athletic department to set a clear direction for athletics, budgeting, facility upkeep and student achievement.

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

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