I’ll miss them.
As our readers know, the Eastern-Greene School Board voted Monday night not renew the contracts of football coach Travis Wray and athletic director Aaron Buskirk.
To make a prediction, letting these gentlemen go will prove to be a big mistake. From my dealings with them, they are competent, gracious, and concerned about the welfare of Eastern’s students.
Letting Wray go will especially be a enormous mistake, I think, especially since he was able to guide the Thunderbirds to a 6-4 mark last fall.
The roster for the Thunderbirds’ last game, the 20-13 sectional loss to West Washington, listed 36 players on the team. However, 15 of those are seniors, including quarterback Jaysce Skinner; Jaden Evans, the team’s best receiver; linemen Garrett Vest, Gage Baker, and Dakota Vaught; running backs Blayne Campbell and Nick Fox; and kicker Andy Drummond. That means that only a maximum of 21 veterans will return next year. It doesn’t make any sense to me to create a controversy which may cause some of those players to attend other schools. (Lest any reader accuse me of putting ideas in the players’ heads, I’m sure they and their parents have the brains to look at a road map and see how close North Daviess, Edgewood, Bloomington, and Linton are.)
In fact, I think the greatest challenge of Eastern’s coach this fall will be getting as many players as possible, especially underclassmen, to come out for the team so the school can build for the future. I daresay that’s going to be hard to do after this brouhaha. The kids have seen that the majority of school board members don’t really want to support a coach who cared for his players. Anyone who thinks Wray didn’t care should have been standing beside me after the West Washington game and watched him fight back the tears after that loss.
However, I think the impact on Eastern’s sports programs is the least of the matter.
Limiting public comment on a matter of obvious concern to the community stinks like a mackerel that’s been dead for five days. In the past, when controversies have arisen, I have seen public bodies limit comment to two or three minutes per speaker, which is fair. I can’t remember a public body that limited all comment to 15 minutes, and anyone who couldn’t speak be damned. This is a constitutional republic, not the United Soviet States of America. If the board members can’t bear to hear the people speak, then they should resign and let people in who aren’t afraid to do their jobs.
Furthermore, it is cowardly to let people go without giving them a reason. I have been fired from jobs, I have been laid off because companies were in financial trouble, and I have been reprimanded for actions I have committed. In all these cases save one, none of the bosses were craven enough to let me go without giving me an explanation. Common decency dictates that the board explain why their performances were unsatisfactory to Wray and Buskirk, and, for that matter, baseball coach Ben Hutcherson whose contract was not renewed at an earlier meeting.
You would think the Eastern-Greene School Board would have learned something from letting Levi Carmichael go. But as Mark Twain said: “God made an idiot for practice; then he made a school board.”