Union, ACV form joint sports committee

Officials at Union and A-C Valley School Districts recently formed a joint school board athletic committee designed to “promote collaboration on cooperative athletic program hiring processes and other related decisions.”

The idea to institute such a committee correlates with the Union board’s April 16 tabling of a consideration to rehire Brad Dittman as head coach of the Union/A-C Valley football team.

Specifically, the Union board’s discussions and eventual tabling largely centered on whether Dittman had addressed concerns of some Union board members regarding the unspecified past behavior of an unnamed assistant coach.

“Even though that assistant coach was not hired yet, we still expressed concern that was expressed to us, and the athletic committee expressed that concern to (Dittman) as well,” said Union athletic director Scott Kindel during the meeting, adding he believed Dittman planned to monitor and address the situation and would likely continue to recommend the assistant coach as being part of the staff.

Kindel went on to say Jordan and A-C Valley athletic director Scott Ditullio were also made aware of the board’s issues with staffing.

Within the districts’ current cooperative football agreement, Union is in charge of head coaching hires, while the A-C Valley board handles other staff personnel.

Kindel said A-C Valley also does not currently have its own athletic committee as Union does, which consists of board members Jeff Shirey, Jeff Kriebel, Shelly Atzeni, and Brade Guntrum.

Union Board member Adam Vogle asked whether the districts’ had ever discussed instituting a joint committee that could make recommendations to both boards on coaching hires, among other co-op matters.

“That was something we had planned on doing with the band agreement and also extending it out with some of the other sports,” said Union superintendent John Kimmel. “The last time we had that discussion was March 12, and our school closure happened on March 13 so that kind of took away from the focus on having those meetings.”

Still, board member Brade Guntrum said he believed Dittman had done an excellent job over the first two years of his term as head coach of the team and questioned why the topic of rehiring Dittman was being linked to concerns about other personnel.

“I know we’re talking about the assistant coach, but we’re voting on the head coach right now and I don’t think anybody here can say anything bad about Brad,” Guntrum said.

Board member Mark Rummel said as long as the assistant was on the coaching staff, he would not vote to rehire Dittman as head coach.

“I don’t want that (assistant) coach around our student athletes,” Rummel said. “It’s a bad example that he sets and I just don’t agree with him being on the sidelines.”

“What is the end result everybody is looking for here,” Guntrum asked. “Can anybody say anything that Brad Dittman has personally done wrong as a head coach? This seems all to be going around an assistant coach. It has nothing to do with the head coach of the program.”

Board president Brenda Brinker responded, saying she had heard of “things” occurring over the last two years and it seemed nothing had been done in response.

“If Mr. Dittman would be recommending (the assistant), then he needs to have a very good plan in place for dealing with any bad behaviors that would crop up,” said Brinker. “That would be what I would be looking for and that’s how I’m associating it with Mr. Dittman.”

After further discussion, a motion to table rehiring Dittman until the next board meeting in May passed by a 7-2 margin, with Guntrum and Kriebel voting against.

Kindel said he believed the A-C Valley board would welcome the idea of forming a joint committee, although one had not been included as part of the original co-op agreement.

ACV hears proposal

During the A-C Valley April 20 session, Jordan informed the board of the potential committee venture.

A-C Valley board president Jennifer Feicht said several A-C Valley officials had expressed interest in speaking with Union officials regarding the committee.

Feicht added when the football co-op was originally entered into, a suggestion to form a joint interviewing and decision-making process was turned down. Feicht asked what facilitated the topic’s reemergence.

Jordan said the Union board’s concerns related to individuals hired by A-C Valley, indicating any related issues brought to his attention are examined thoroughly.

“Sometimes you hear things and when you get down to investigating particular situations, it’s a lot of hearsay and things that really can get blown out of proportion or taken to a level it never should have gone to,” Jordan said.

Jordan noted while he and Ditullio engage with and support coaches often; the ultimate goal of athletics to promote the growth of students should remain a constant.

“That’s who we need to craft our programs for,” said Jordan. “When adults get into that mix and their personalities clash that only detracts from our goal of having good athletic programs for our students.”

Jordan said the creation of a committee would necessitate officials looking at and potentially amending the cooperative agreement’s respective hiring procedures between the districts.

On April 29, A-C Valley superintendent David McDeavitt said the newly created joint committee officially met April 28, touching on a variety of matters.

“The one item that came from that is the athletic directors and principals from both districts are going to work together to create a universal evaluation tool to create consistency,” McDeavitt said. “The committee did a wonderful job and we discussed the importance of a good evaluation system.”