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High School Sports

Hempfield football coach resigns, expected to stay as AD

| Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011

Hempfield Area football coach Greg Meisner resigned Friday after six losing and controversial seasons, according to a school board member.

Meisner, 52, a former NFL player, is expected to remain as the district's athletic director. The school board in September awarded him a three-year contract to manage the athletic program. He also is expected to retain his position as weight room coordinator.

"I can confirm that he has resigned," said Director Jeff Weber, chairman of the board's athletic committee.

Weber said Meisner wanted to leave on his own rather than be fired when a new school board takes over in December.

Superintendent Andy Leopold said the board will vote on Meisner's resignation on Monday night.

Meisner did not respond to several messages requesting comment.

Meisner earns more than $105,000 a year from the three jobs. As football coach, Meisner earned $9,092 a season, Leopold said. The athletic director's position pays $82,000 a year. He earns another $14,600 overseeing the weight room.

Since becoming head coach, Meisner had a 14-43 record, going 1-8 for each of the past two seasons. When he was hired in 2005, he was the fourth head coach at Hempfield in six years. He succeeded Bo Ruffner.

Director Sonya Brajdic, who is expected to become president of the board when it reorganizes Dec. 5, said the coaching position must be posted internally to give district teachers the first chance to apply. She said the contract with the Hempfield Area Education Association requires the board to consider district employees before searching outside.

"The rumors have been flying for certain," she said. "They'll have to post in-house for certain."

Leopold said the job must be posted internally for a week.

"I'm sure he's leaving with a heavy heart," said board President Randy Stoner. "He is a helluva nice guy and was great with the kids."

Director Joe Lutz said Meisner's resignation was "not totally unexpected." Meisner probably would have been replaced by the new board, Lutz said.

"I'm sure it's difficult for him to walk away from this," he said. "By resigning he gets to determine when and how he leaves."

Jeanne Smith, a former Hempfield administrator who was elected to the board this month, is concerned that the four departing board members may try to hire a replacement before the new board is seated.

Weber and directors John Henry, Will Shay and Gordon Scherff will attend their last meeting this month.

"It worries me they're making these decisions that they won't be around to live with," Smith said.

One coach who is interested in the post is Greensburg Central Catholic's William "Muzzy" Colosimo. His team played Aliquippa last night in the WPIAL AA semi-final playoffs.

"I'm a Hempfield graduate of 1968," he said. "I got fired (as an assistant coach) in 1990 with Gene Epley. I've been in their system.

"I've talked to no one over there about a job or money," he said. "They just asked me if I had an interest."

Colosimo said he's been contacted by a school director and some parents who would like him to coach at Hempfield.

"I haven't spoken to anybody in administration. Every year, at the end of the season, people talk to me (about a coaching job). I never thought about leaving here. If someone talks to me about Hempfield, I'm listening," he said.

Colosimo said he's discussed the job with Meisner, who is a close friend.

"I've known Greg since he was in high school. ... I talk to him once a week about football. He's a guy I know very well," he said.

Colosimo, 60, has been at Central for 16 years. His record is 143-45, he said, and he's led his team to the playoffs 12 of 16 seasons.

Meisner's tenure as athletic director has not been without controversy.

The district paid Meisner's former assistant, Mike Burrell, $75,000 to settle a lawsuit. The district had refused to reappoint Burrell after he reported in 2008 that $2,400 in ticket money had disappeared from Meisner's office.

The state police were asked to investigate, but the money -- $20 more than was stolen -- mysteriously reappeared a few days later, prompting police to end their probe.

Meisner, who is a licensed chiropractor, is from New Kensington and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980.

He joined the NFL in 1981 after he was drafted by the then-Los Angeles Rams. He played eight years with the Rams, two with the Kansas City Chiefs and his final year before retiring with the New York Giants.

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