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J-E school board appoints lacrosse coaches

The board voted last night to appoint B.J. O'Hara, the former Hobart All-American and one-time coach, boys varsity lacrosse coach and Todd Richardson boys junior varsity coach for the current season. The votes were unanimous with the exception of board member Brian Richardson, father of Todd, who abstained from both.

Todd Richardson will donate his stipend back to the district, his father said last night.

"He has worked with the kids from this district for several years now and he stepped into the position because we could not find anyone else that was certified," Brian Richardson said. "Rather than let the kids flounder or have no program ... he stepped in and helped out."

New coaches had to be appointed following the March 15 board meeting, where the board denied the re-appointment of veteran lacrosse coaches Rick Young (varsity) and Mike Smart (J-V) with the season underway. Richardson voted with three other board members against appointing Smart and abstained from the Young vote (which was tied at 3-3), saying he was too close to the situation as his son is on Young's team.

Interim Superintendent Larry Zacher told the Post-Standard Tuesday Zacher that while knows there could be "political ripples" over Richardson's appointment, the district is struggling to find certified coaches.

Interim athletic director Phyllis Danks offered the jobs to the teams' longtime varsity and junior varsity assistants Pat Smart (twin brother of Mike) and Jim Gunnip. Both turned the jobs down and resigned. Modified lacrosse coach Mike Frood also resigned following the controversy.

Board member Connie Drake said it was "appalling" that people would suggest Brian Richardson's vote against Smart's appointment and his son's appointment to the position were connected.

"He's come back every summer from college and worked with the kids, he's been devoted to the program and he just wanted to see it continue," Drake said.

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