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Pa. high school boys' basketball coach resigns, citing suspension for tweet as last straw

MIKE WHITE
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Matt Furjanic

One day after he was informed that he was suspended for one game for a recent post he made on Twitter, Woodland Hills High School boys basketball coach Matt Furjanic informed the school that he had enough.

Furjanic resigned Friday as Woodland Hills coach. A man who has been a head coach at the high school and college level in six different decades, Furjanic e-mailed his letter of resignation the Woodland Hills school board, athletic director Ron Coursey and other administrators. Coursey is the former AD at York High.

Furjanic, 70, is in his second season of his second stint at Woodland Hills. He wanted to make it clear the one-game suspension that was handed down by the school was simply the last straw in what he termed as philosophical differences between himself, Coursey and some administrators. Furjanic said he would not have resigned if it wasn't for the suspension.

"I kind of saw the handwriting on the wall," Furjanic said. "I didn't think I was getting the support from the administration and that one-game suspension kind of put the nail in the coffin that they were not going to support me."

The background: On Thursday, Woodland Hills suspended Furjanic one game because of a recent post on Twitter questioning a technical foul he received from an official in a Jan. 8 game because he used the word "dammit."

Woodland Hills' decision came after the WPIAL on Wednesday publicly censured Furjanic and recommended Woodland Hills take further action against Furjanic if the district felt it was justified for Furjanic not adhering to sportsmanship expectations as outlined by PIAA by-laws. The WPIAL made its decision after the league's board of directors conducted a hearing Wednesday afternnon with Furjanic.

Furjanic claimed he got the technical because he complained about the lack of a traveling call and said to an official, "dammit, that's steps."

"The WPIAL gave me a censure. My point is the school could've just said, 'We'll accept the WPIAL ruling,'" Furjanic said. "That's what hurt more than anything."

Ron Coursey is shown here during his stint as the York High athletic director.

Issues with Coursey: Furjanic said issues have been building up ever since he took the job last season. Coursey also applied for the job.

"This was really a hard decision to make," Furjanic said. "I thank the school board for giving me the opportunity coach. We have good kids. But there were some things that myself and the administration didn't agree on. It was difficult at times and the relationship I had with the AD ... we had two different philosophies on how a program should be run. Then this past week, when the WPIAL gave me a censure, I felt I received no support from the district when they went ahead and gave me a suspension."

Coursey referred any questions about Furjanic to Woodland Hills school superintendent James Harris.

"I don't know what he's talking about with his relationship to [Coursey]," Harris said. "As a coach, he's been 100 percent supported. He was able to pick his entire staff and we gave him all the resources he needed and asked for. He feels it's debatable to use what many consider profanity in front of students. We can disagree on that. But Ron Coursey is an excellent AD. He does a lot of work with students in and out of school and I trust Ron's judgment."

The rule: The PIAA, which includes the WPIAL, established a rule this year when a player or coach can get a two-game suspension if ejected for "using foul or vulgar language, ethnic or racially insensitive comments or physical contact." Coaches also can be suspended for criticizing officials in the media.

Furjanic wasn't ejected from the game. But in the end, his Twitter post got him into trouble and ultimately was the reason he resigned. Furjanic tagged the WPIAL Twitter account in the post, when Furjanic questioned whether "dammit" is a swear word.

"Well the new cursing rule I got a T for Dammit. My Mom used to say that & she never cursed. Seems HS officials can be subjective in this rule. Needs clarity. If I put God in front I see. My Mother never said those 2 together. Maybe a list of words should be given out. @wpial7."

Woodland Hills is 0-3 on the season.

"I'm not going to lie. Woodland Hills is going to take some lumps this year, but this decision has nothing to do with wins and losses," Furjanic said. "There's not a senior on the team and there is talent there between seventh and 11th grade. Woodland Hills is going to be reckoned with in the next few years."

Not done coaching: Furjanic, who once led Robert Morris University to two NCAA tournament berths, said he hopes he isn't done coaching. Besides coaching Robert Morris, he was the head coach at Marist and spent 17 years as the head coach at a junior college in Florida before coming back to Woodland Hills.

"I'm a lifer. Coaching is in my blood," Furjanic said. "I'd like to coach again somewhere, as a head coach or assistant. Hey, [ San Antonio Spurs coach] Gregg Popovich is older than me, [Syracuse's] Jim Boeheim is older than me and [Duke's] Mike Krzyzewski is older than me. And they're all still coaching."