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Ex-Gateway coach: School board 'pushed me out'

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

The Gateway School Board on Wednesday night approved the resignation of former athletic director and football coach Terry Smith.

The action occurs nearly seven months since the board cut the position of athletic director to a part-time post and prohibited anybody serving in that position from coaching.

Smith this week accepted a $150,000 job at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he will coach wide receivers.

“The Gateway School Board pushed me out of the nest, but I found my wings,” Smith said. “I always wanted to coach Division I athletics at a major conference school. Now I have the opportunity to do that.”

Many parents have protested the athletic personnel changes made in June, which included cutting Smith's benefits in half, saying the board wanted to force Smith to quit.

“You took his benefits away from him and his family, and I'm pretty sure you're all aware of the fact that he has a daughter with special needs,” said Sasha Craig of Monroeville, who attended the school board meeting. “That was pretty disheartening and sick as far as I see it.”

Board members who supported reducing Smith's hours said the action was needed to save money because of a budget deficit. At the time, they also said an athletic director who also coaches might show favoritism for the sport he is coaching.

Smith, who is black, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in October, alleging the board's move was racially motivated.

Despite Smith's decision to resign, one of his attorneys, Domenic A. Bellisario, said there is no plan to withdraw the complaint.

School board President Steve O'Donnell said he could not comment on the matter because of the pending EEOC action.

Smith was Gateway's head coach for 11 seasons and compiled a 101-30 record. His teams reached the playoffs every year, and Gateway was a four-time WPIAL Class AAAA runner-up.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at klawson@tribweb.com.

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