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EDITORIAL: Jeffrey White stepping into one tough job as William Penn athletic director
Jeffrey White has a very big job ahead of him.
There is no doubt about that.
White was hired as the William Penn Senior High School athletic director during a York City School Board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 16.
He takes over a department that has been embroiled in instability and controversy over the past couple of years.
His hiring came after a months-long search to find a replacement for Ron Coursey and came just days before the start of the fall sports season.
It also followed a dust-up that involved a former Bearcats basketball standout, who thought he would get the job as William Penn AD.
Sam Sutton, the former New Hope athletic director and a 1997 William Penn graduate, claimed he received an offer for the position but had the offer rescinded shortly before a board vote in July.
Sutton said he was told by the district human resources director that the board removed his hiring from the meeting agenda because he disrespected a female school employee upon visiting William Penn for a tour of the building.
Sutton denied the allegation and called the entire process “highly unprofessional.”
In addition, White will inherit an athletic department from Coursey that was in the midst of a major overhaul when he departed.
Coursey was trying to restart a number of programs at William Penn, including softball, baseball, competitive cheer, wrestling, soccer, tennis and cross country. It was part of a three-year plan.
During his brief stint at William Penn, Coursey also had to fill the two most high-profile coaching positions at the school — boys’ basketball and football.
In addition, Coursey put a renewed emphasis on academics, requiring Bearcat student-athletes to attend mandatory after-school study halls.
Lastly, Coursey gave the boys’ basketball team the opportunity to play in an NBA arena for a "Court of Dreams" program. It was at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, home of the 76ers and Flyers.
Oh, and lest we forget, Coursey had to deal with a shooting outside of a varsity football game last season — an incident that caused the district to temporarily move games from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
There’s no doubt that Coursey tried to accomplish a lot at William Penn, but he certainly had his detractors, who claimed he was more flash than substance, and was using William Penn as a stepping stone to a better job
The fact that he only stayed at William Penn for a year and a half before taking the AD position at Woodland Hills near Pittsburgh gave some ammunition to his critics.
Of course, the fact that Coursey had to follow a William Penn institution did not make things easy for him.
Joe Chiodi had been with William Penn for nearly five decades, and he served as the high school's AD for four years. Chiodi, however, resigned after learning that he would not be rehired for the position.
Some of Chiodi’s supporters within the school district — and there were many — didn’t exactly embrace Coursey and his new ideas.
So that’s the situation that White will walk into.
There are a number of constituencies that he must try to win over, most notably the Chiodi supporters, the Sutton supporters and the Coursey admirers.
White comes from the Reading School District, which should help. Coming from an urban district, he should be familiar with many of the issues facing William Penn.
Still, at this point, relatively little is known about White. In a strange way, that could be to his advantage. Folks won't have any preconceived notions about him and will hopefully give him the benefit of the doubt, at least to start.
The rest will be up to White.
Hopefully he will be up to the tasks of one tough job.