After historic season, Pa. high school football coaches resign in dispute with district
It was the resignation heard 'round the Lehigh Valley this weekend.
The surprising decision by Southern Lehigh football coach John Toman and nine of his 10 assistants Friday was the talk of the local football world and the Southern Lehigh community.
Asked for a reason for his departure after the best season in school history, Toman said, "As a staff we decided it had become too difficult to field an adequate coaching staff within the confines and guidelines established by the district.”
At Monday night’s school board meeting, the district superintendent said the administration didn’t expect the resignations.
“We were surprised like everybody on Friday when the coaches went in and explained to the students they wouldn’t be returning for the fall season,” Superintendent Kathy Evison said. “It is a loss to our students and all of them I’m sure are concerned about the year moving forward.
”Our goal right now is to trying to maintain consistency and we have one coach [Phil Sams] who chose to stay to support them," she said. “We also have our athletic trainers who the kids are familiar with. They will continue to work with the students in their offseason training program.”
The president of the local football booster club wasn’t pleased with the change.
“It’s disappointing,” said Tamlin Ferguson, whose son was a member of last year’s team as a freshman. “... They were given a set of conditions they felt they couldn’t live under.”
Troy Vingom, whose son was a two-time captain for Southern Lehigh and a key player on the offensive line, spoke on behalf of Toman and the departing coaches.
“I’m here to express my disappointment with the administration and the athletic leadership,” Vingom said. “In my opinion, they have destroyed the football program.”
Vingom added, “We don’t need more snowflakes in the world. We need strong individuals with strong opinions who appreciate differences. In my opinion, the football program helps built that.”
Others in the audience felt Toman and his staff’s departure was the right move..
“I want to express my thanks for the administration," Jeff Ricci said.
Doug Durham agreed with Ricci, and asked for more information about the school board’s plans.
“Parents of student-athletes have a right to know what led to this decision,” Durham said. “ ... It’s something we have a right to know.”
Evison said the district is working on posting the head coaching position.
“It will go up in the next day or so and then we’ll go through an interview process,” she said. "I am confident we can find a highly qualified coach who will work with our students and continue the excellence of our program.”