Coach Wayne won’t be back at Holgate

Boys basketball coach 4 shy of 500 victories

Paul Wayne had a 496-336 record in 36 years at Holgate. The Tigers were 2004 Division IV state champions.
Paul Wayne had a 496-336 record in 36 years at Holgate. The Tigers were 2004 Division IV state champions.

HOLGATE, Ohio — The board of education for Holgate Local Schools was set to approve a boys varsity basketball coach at a meeting Tuesday night, and for the first time since the fall of 1977, that position will not be filled by Paul Wayne.

Just four wins short of a major milestone (496-336 career record) coaching the Tigers, Wayne will not reach No. 500 at Holgate, which is about 55 miles southwest of Toledo.

Tyler Closson, a junior varsity coach at Leipsic for three seasons, was set to fill the post. Wayne’s former positions as Holgate’s athletic director and physical education teacher will likely be filled by Anthony Jackson. Those hirings were pending board approval.

The fact that Wayne, 61, will not be back for 37th season as head coach — and 40th overall at Holgate — has nothing to do with performance.

Wayne said it has everything to do with a lack of communication from the five-member Holgate school board, headed by board president Steve Thomas and district superintendent Kelly Meyers.

Wayne and his assistant basketball coach of 35 years, Ron Engel, were two of the three Holgate educators whose teaching positions — previously held under a retire-rehire contract with the district — were eliminated by the board in April. The third man impacted was a second-grade teacher who was not a coach.

“What was deeply disappointing was the fact that there was no communication until April 9,” Wayne said. “On that day, it was a one-way communication: ‘We are not renewing your contract at the end of the year.’

“None of the three of us knew anything about it until April 9. Contractually, they had every right to do what they did. What bothered me is the fact that they did not communicate — except behind closed doors — anything about their plans. They’re going to hire new people in, and they’re all going to be entry-level people. They are saving money on the three of us.”

According to Meyers, the board’s decision to discontinue the retire-rehire practice was a cost-cutting move.

“We have two renewal levies coming up on the November ballot,” Meyers said. “We are looking to try and stretch our dollars as far as possible so that we don’t have to go on the ballot for new money. Tax levies are not doing tremendously well right now.

“We are trying to cut back in any way that we can without eliminating positions or taking away services or programs for our students.”

Wayne had officially retired in 2009, but had remained at Holgate in his three positions under a four-year, retire-rehire contract. He said his retirement actually saved the district approximately $160,000 during those four years, because he was retained at a fifth-year pay scale instead of the high-end salary he had drawn before retirement.

Wayne did make more money (more than $100,000 per year) between his pension and his retire-rehire pay scale. But he points out that his pension did not cost the district because it was paid from the retirement fund that teachers and their district pay into.

Not renewing the three retire-rehire educators will save Holgate Schools a combined total of $45,000 per year, the difference between fifth-year and first-year pay scales.

Wayne and Engel were each invited by Meyers and the school board to reapply for their coaching jobs, but they turned down the offer.

“I don’t know that there was any guarantee that we’d be hired,” Wayne said. “The reason I did not apply is because I do not like the direction that the leadership of Holgate Local Schools is taking. I did not want to be a part of that.

“I’m obviously not happy about this. I like to do things the right way, and they’re going in a direction that I do not want to be a part of.”

During his 36 seasons as coach, Wayne guided Tigers to 13 regional advancements in the state tournament, including a Division IV state championship in 2004 and a return to the state semifinals in 2007.

For much of his career, Wayne employed a trademark deliberate style of play that often led to low-scoring games.

When the 2013-14 season comes around, Wayne said he does not expect to attend Tiger basketball games. He does wish to continue to coach at another high school, if an opportunity arises.

“I still love working with the student-athletes, I love the game of basketball, and I love our community,” Wayne said. “It pains me that I won’t be coaching next year. But there was not one iota of a thought that I would want to work for them.”

Right now, Wayne is adjusting to his new lot in life.

“I came to Holgate fresh out of Bowling Green State University in the fall of 1974. My family has bled purple and gold for a lot of years. For me, 39 years. For my wife, 31 years. For my kids, their whole lives.

“It’s definitely going to hurt not going back in there in the fall. It’s never been a job to me. It was always enjoyable. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get hurt by this, but that’s the way the world is now. Sacrifice and loyalty do not get rewarded in today’s world.”

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