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Friday, May 13, 2011

USA TODAY: Consultants back firing of basketball coach

St. Charles Unit District 303 plans to make changes to its athletics polices in light of an independent review. (Melissa Jenco/TribLocal file photo)
St. Charles Unit District 303 plans to make changes to its athletics polices in light of an independent review. (Melissa Jenco/TribLocal file photo)
An independent review of the St. Charles East athletic department has found the recent firing of boys basketball coach Brian Clodi to be justified, but the review also has sparked some changes to department policies, officials said Friday.
Consultants found, despite the backlash from parents and students, “there is significant evidence to support the dismissal” of Clodi who coached the varsity team for eight years.
“That decision’s been made, it’s done and we need to continue to move on,” Supt. Don Schlomann said. “And I think while there’s different sentiments about it everybody wants to move on and provide quality programming for our kids.”
He plans to announce an interim coach next week and said it will not be someone who is in the running for the job permanently.
While the coach’s dismissal exacerbated the review of the East athletic department, Schlomann said the district actually had already been considering one due to bullying and hazing issues.
The review, which was performed by a former superintendent and former athletic director from another district, interviewed more than 40 people and found positives like extensive offerings, dedicated coaches and good facilities. However, it also found weak spots like Athletic Director Jerry Krieg’s communication and organization, the evaluation system for coaches, inconsistency among booster clubs and bullying.
In response, Schlomann is calling for coaches and students in District 303 to be trained to recognize and report bullying and hazing. Recent efforts in that area already are causing more people to come forward, he said.
“We’ve got to provide some training for our students because the environment is different in the classroom and on the field … and often on the field over time there are things that occur that are kind of historical in nature where people have always done it this way, and now people are realizing that doesn’t feel right,” he said.
He also is calling for a review of job descriptions for the athletic director, assistant athletic director and coaches and wants coaches to be evaluated annually in writing by the athletic director instead of the current system of self-evaluations.
In addition, he would like a committee to study potential changes to the booster club structure in the district. The district has 53 clubs between the two high schools – one for each sport – while many districts have one per school.
“These are the things that really matter to make a program successful, to make it fair for our kids and to have what we would call a really dynamic programming for all of our students,” Schlomann said of the recommended changes.
There will be new leadership at East helping to implement those changes as Krieg announced this week he is retiring as of June 30.
Despite some criticisms in the report regarding Krieg’s leadership, Schlomann said Krieg has been considering retirement for several years, and he did not push Krieg into the decision. He added, “in no way am I disappointed with Jerry Krieg and his performance.”
“No one cared more about ‘Saints Nation’ as they call it than he did,” Schlomann said. “I mean, I’m not convinced if you cut him open he wouldn’t bleed orange.”
The district will be posting a job opening notice for both an interim and permanent athletic director and then decide which would be the best choice.

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