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Who’s in charge here?

High school coaches facing more intense scrutiny

That message has resonated for 37 years now, the sort of coaching tenure impossible to fathom at any level, much less the high-school ranks. As time goes on, the notion that anyone will coach in the same place for 37 years, much less get the chance to do so, gets more absurd.

The sudden departure of Pete Birmingham offers Exhibit A to this point. You’d have thought that nine mostly successful seasons and a sectional title would have offered Birmingham at least some small right to autonomy within his program, because he knew how to win and get the best out of his charges.

Instead, all it got him was a litany of complaints from parents, legitimate or not, about which kids were playing and which kids were not. Worse yet, those parents took their complaints to the powers-that-be at Marcellus, who listened and sided with them. What followed was inevitable.

More and more, coaches are prime targets for anyone who feels aggrieved for any old reason. Whether it’s kids who feel disrespected or parents that want to run the whole show, they’re taking their beefs to school administrators, and it’s working.

Marcellus felt that wrath in the fall with JV football coach Jim Marsh and his motivational trip to a cemetery that got national attention and nearly led to Marsh’s resignation. While some of the players felt uncomfortable, it was parents making the biggest noise, as usual.

Liverpool had upheaval in the winter when another coaching great, Jerry Wilcox, was let go in mid-season. Oswego girls basketball coach Phil Reed sat out the last portion of the season when parents objected about his methods to school administrators.

All of these stories suggest that coaches, in this day and age, have to be extra careful in applying any sort of discipline. Unless they have the sort of reputation that Mike Messere possesses, any of them could get undermined by aggrieved outside forces.

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