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South Park reverses course, won't open football coach's job

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 7:45 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

The South Park School Board called an audible.

After initially saying 31-year veteran Tom Loughran's job as head football coach would be opened at its next meeting Feb. 13, board president John Innocenti said Wednesday that Loughran, 60, instead will remain as coach.

Innocenti called it “a series of misunderstandings” and added, “I think we have everything resolved now.”

Asked whether Loughran, who won a pair of PIAA Class AA titles at South Park, will coach the team this coming fall, Innocenti responded, “Absolutely. We told him that. He will coach. We agreed we'd talk next year … at the end of the 2014 season.”

Innocenti said the board elected to open Loughran's position because it wanted to explore whether school policy dictated that a teacher be given first crack at coaching the team.

No such provision exists, Innocenti said.

Loughran's request for retirement as a teacher was approved at the January school board meeting, and his last day will be June 5.

Loughran, 60, won 178 games at South Park and led the Eagles to the playoffs for the first time since 2005 this past season.

Revered by former players, Loughran's perceived ouster angered many in the South Park community, triggering an outpouring of support for Loughran on the Tribune-Review's website, triblive.com.

Yet Innocenti insisted the board was not trying to push Loughran out the door. Following procedure regarding teachers coaching and determining Loughran's future plans were the board's motives.

Innocenti dismissed the idea that negative reaction forced a change in plans.

“Our intent was not to switch Tom out,” Innocenti said. “It really was to make sure that we were doing the right things.”

For Loughran, the support was overwhelming.

“I've had great support from the people I've had a chance to coach,” Loughran said. “The people in the community, the parents whose kids I have coached have all been tremendously supportive. I'm very thankful for their support.”

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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