TJ opens baseball coaching position, to surprise of former coach
Last spring, Rich Krivanek guided the Thomas Jefferson baseball team to a Section 3 title, a spot in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals and a berth in the state playoffs for the first time in school history.
That was not enough to keep his job.
On Tuesday evening, the West Jefferson Hills School District posted on its website that it had an opening for a varsity head baseball coach, ending Krivanek's four-year tenure leading the program.
“I had no clue that this even happened. I had no clue that this occurred,” said Krivanek, the 2012 Daily News Baseball Coach of the Year. “I received a couple of texts from players around 9:30 p.m., and they sent me screen shots of the site showing that they were looking for candidates for a varsity baseball coach.”
Krivanek immediately went onto his computer to see for himself, then contacted school athletic director Bill Cherpak for verification. No reason was given for the district's decision to not renew Krivanek's one-year contract.
“Honestly, I can't really comment on it,” Cherpak said. “I can't discuss personnel issues.”
Krivanek, who was suspended for two games last season for unspecified reasons, stated that he attempted to contact acting superintendent Dr. Linda Hippert and human resources director Hamsini Rajgopal for a clarification of the reason for his dismissal. But he did not receive a reply.
“The school district did not notify me at all that my position was going to be opened,” Krivanek said. “I called numerous times, trying to get a reason, and I think the best word is that I was blindsided.”
Early Wednesday morning, Krivanek posted a statement on Facebook regarding his dismissal along with the screen shot of the help wanted advertisement. In less than a day, he had more than 50 comments from friends and current and former players.
Since taking over the program in 2009, Krivanek helped Thomas Jefferson to a 48-32 record. In 2010, the Jaguars tied Elizabeth Forward for first place in Section 4-AAA, then they won the Section 3-AAA title outright in 2012.
Of the players on that 2012 squad, four — Greg Schneider (Pitt), Bruno Natter (Mercyhurst), Joe Shaffer (Seton Hill) and Sean Saputo (Waynesburg) — will play baseball in college.
“It's just disheartening, the disrespect for them to open a position and not relay that information,” Krivanek said. “I've been there four years, and I've given my heart to this program. I've had great relationships with the players that have graduated and received numerous texts and support for me on my Facebook page, and I don't know what more the school district could want.”
Since the position is vacant, Krivanek was told by Cherpak that he could reapply and be considered to fill the vacancy.
But that is not going to happen, the former coach said.
“You can call it whatever you want — opening the position, not renewing the contract,” Krivanek said. “Obviously they don't want me there, and I don't want to be somewhere I'm not wanted.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.