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South Park to open longtime football coach Loughran's job

| Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, 11:06 p.m.
South Park head coach Tom Loughran conducts practice on Wednesday August 15, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
South Park head coach Tom Loughran on Wednesday August 15, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

After 31 years and two PIAA Class AA championships, Tom Loughran may not return as coach of the South Park football team.

The South Park School Board will open Loughran's position at its next meeting Feb. 13, board president John Innocenti confirmed Tuesday.

Last month, the board accepted Loughran's request for retirement from his teaching position, making it effective June 5.

“We don't have a football coach right now,” Innocenti said. “In the February meeting, we will vote to open the position.”

Superintendent Jeanine Gregory did not return voice or email messages. Athletic director Bill DaBaldo did not return messages left on his office and cell phones.

Loughran, 60, said he respects the board's decision but expressed frustration at the lack of explanation he received for why his job will be opened.

“They can do whatever they want to do. That's their prerogative,” Loughran said. “I just feel that I should be given some type of consideration as to why they're doing it.”

Loughran said an e-mail he sent to Innocenti has gone unreturned.

The move angered one of Loughran's former players, Reggie Wells Jr., who helped South Park to the 1997 state title and played in the NFL from 2003-12.

After learning the news, Wells quit as assistant football coach and asked that his personal belongings be removed from the school's trophy case.

“It's sad about coach,” Wells said. “He's not crying in his milk or anything. But he didn't deserve to go out like that. There have been people with scandals who don't get that kind of treatment.”

Innocenti confirmed that Gregory and Edward Gannis Jr., the board secretary and business manager, met with Loughran during class Jan. 13.

The goal was to inform Loughran that the position of head football coach would be opened and he would be welcome to reapply, Innocenti said.

Loughran said he has scaled back how much time he spends with the team during offseason workouts and doubts whether he'll apply for the job.

“What am I going to explain in an interview that I haven't shown in 31 years?” Loughran said.

South Park finished 5-5 overall, 5-3 in the WPIAL Class AA Century Conference this past fall and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

In 31 years, Loughran won 178 games at South Park, an average of almost six per season.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, school board member Pat Sable said he was unaware of any change to Loughran's job status, though he did seem impressed when told the dates of Loughran's two state titles.

“That's a pretty interesting question,” Sable said when asked why Loughran's job would be in jeopardy. “Sounds to me like he has some pretty strong credentials. I'd just like to know a more in-depth story on what's going on.”

Innocenti defended the move. He likened it to how the board hired Gregory, the incumbent, for the superintendent position a few years ago after conducting an internal and external search.

“This is just prudent business management,” Innocenti said. “It's looking at the options and making sure that we make the right decision. It gives us just a little bit of time to make sure that we're all on the same page.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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