Approximately 50-60 former and current Central York students, parents, athletes, coaches and administrators attended Monday night's Central York School District board meeting, patiently waiting for more than three hours to make their feelings heard about the future of longtime football and boys' volleyball head coach Brad Livingston.
When they finally got the chance, their pleas were passionate.
There were two "citizen comment" segments during the meeting, but before the first one, school board president Eric Wolfgang read a prepared statement that the board would not accept questions and comments at that time regarding Livingston. He said that the board was just made aware of a brewing controversy surrounding Livingston's future and had not been properly briefed. He followed that by saying that "no decision will be made at tonight's meeting, nor is there any current plan to take action at any public meeting in the near future."
Wolfgang also said that the school board would not handle any private personnel matters in a public manner moving forward.
After that statement, which was read during the reorganization meeting, the board delayed any further chance for the public to speak by meticulously examining each topic of discussion during the meeting, which stretched well past 10 p.m.
There was growing frustration among those who had come out to voice their concerns over rumors that Livingston will be forced out as coach of the two athletic programs if he doesn't take a deal allegedly set in place by the administration. That proposed deal would allegedly require Livingston to remove himself as head coach of the football team and focus solely on the boys' volleyball team.
Public comment: When the public comment portion of the meeting was finally started, Livingston's supporters had plenty to say and emotions ran high.
In a particularly moving moment, Tucker Haas, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2, said Livingston welcomed him to be a part of the Central football team as an honorary team member.
"I have friends because of him. People like me because I'm part of the football team," Haas said.
"This man was like a second father to me," Haas added.
Lisa Haas got extremely emotional when she said: "We moved here about a year ago and the main reason we did was because of Mr. Livingston."
Wayne Tribue, a former Central football standout who went on to star at Temple said: "You just can't replace someone like (Livingston)."
The first speaker, Robert Davenport said: "I'm embarrassed to be part of the Panther family, the way we're treating Mr. Livingston."
Dave Cunningham, a former volunteer coach under Livingston said: "If you want this man to go, then send him out in a celebratory way."
Cunningham added: "Guy never did me wrong in 12 years."
The last person to speak on the matter was school board member Michael Snyder. Snyder was the only board member to comment on the Livingston situation, saying: "The students should not have to pay for this."
No one at the meeting spoke out against Livingston.
When Livingston was reached for comment earlier in the day, he responded via email and said the rumors were "technically incorrect." He went on to say that he had no further comment to provide at the time. Following the meeting, district superintendent Michael Snell did not wish to add any further comment outside of what was mentioned in the prepared statement read by Wolfgang.
Successful career: Livingston has been the head coach of the football team for 34 years, but is coming off one of his worst seasons in 2015. The Panthers went 3-7 overall and 2-5 in York-Adams League Division I play. Overall, Livingston has a career football record of 211-153-4.
He's been a part of the volleyball program much longer, dating back to the 1970s as an assistant before taking over as the head coach in 2002. The boys' volleyball program has been one of the most successful teams in the state at the PIAA Class AAA level. In his 14 years as head coach for the boys' volleyball team, he's led the program to four District 3 titles and has been a part of many of the team's six state titles, including most recently in 2014.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.