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WHITE: Pa. high school sends wrong message by allowing players to vote on keeping coach

MIKE WHITE
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
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Every high school sports year brings a few crazy-but-true stories in Pennsylvania.

Try topping this one for this year: After one game, a high school lets the players on the football team vote on whether or not the head coach should be retained. Then the coach resigns.

Yes, that really happened at Freedom High School in Beaver County last week. And you thought the mail-in votes for president was the only crazy mess involving voting?

Greg Toney resigned as Freedom’s coach last week after the vote was taken. Freedom school officials aren’t talking about the situation and Toney hasn’t said much. His team lost its opener to New Brighton, 24-6.

There are conflicting reports about the results of the vote and who actually requested that the vote to take place. That doesn’t matter. The bottom line is the vote took place and Freedom allowed it to happen.

Shame on Freedom, from superintendent Jeffrey Fuller on down to other school officials. No matter who came up with the idea of the player vote, Freedom school officials should’ve nixed it immediately. John Rosa is Freedom’s athletic director and the school board voted him the interim coach last Thursday. Rosa has declined comment on the situation.

I don’t pretend to know all of the situation with Toney, who was 8-4 in his first season with the Bulldogs. Regardless, what kind of message does it send that a school lets high school players vote if the coach should stay or go? Has this ever happened even in the NFL or other pro sports leagues? I wouldn’t trust a lot of teenagers to pick a place for dinner, let alone let them decide whether a coach should be cut loose. At this rate, why not let students decide the fate of a teacher who might not be well-liked? Heck, maybe Freedom’s football captains could even just be player-coaches.

I talk to loads of high school coaches and athletic directors and one of the most common complaints these days is the sense of entitlement that high school athletes and parents have in so many areas. That sense of entitlement seems to have grown in recent years. Freedom’s actions simply promote that sense of entitlement.

I don’t blame Freedom’s players for the vote. Adults let it happen. Freedom won its first game under Rosa last Friday, a nice 21-0 victory against Riverside. Good luck to Freedom the rest of the season. But the Bulldogs’ start belongs in a believe-it-or-not story.