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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2004

Heath decides against becoming Scott's coach

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Dick Heath Dick Heath
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Five days after accepting the job as the boys basketball coach at Scott High School, Dick Heath has changed his mind and will not take the post.

"That's what I decided," Heath said yesterday from his home in Lima. "It's just a situation that I chose not to get into. I'd prefer not to say anything else about it."

Heath's change of heart will send Scott's eight-member athletic committee back to work to select a coach to replace Earl Morris, who resigned in March after six seasons and a 90-39 record.

Interim Scott principal Richard Johnson, a member of the committee that selected Heath by unanimous vote last Wednesday, said the job will be reposted for five days, from June 21-25, according to Toledo Federation of Teachers contract guidelines, followed by interviews.

"We're surprised and disappointed that he decided not to accept the position," Scott athletic director Jim Huss said

of Heath. "Unfortunately this sets our kids behind that much further."

Huss said Bulldog assistant coaches Neal Abernathy and Dennis Black will be in charge of the program's summer basketball activities on an interim basis until a new head coach is named.

"We're going to do it all over again," said City League athletic commissioner Ed Scrutchins.

All coaching selections made by Toledo Public Schools athletic committees must be forwarded to Scrutchins, who in turn notifies the TPS board of education for final approval.

"I can't comment on [Heath's] decision because I don't know why he made it," Johnson said. "But I'm OK with it. We'll just have to start over. The process is the process. We'll follow it until we get somebody.

"We did what we thought was best [selecting Heath], but it didn't work out and we have to move on."

The job at Scott would have been the eighth head coaching post at an Ohio high school for Heath, 52. Over 22 seasons he compiled a 310-191 record, most recently a 78-37 mark at Lima Senior from 1996-2001. He will retain his job as a teacher at Lima Senior.

After Morris stepped down and the position was first posted, former Scott coach Ben Williams contacted Huss and the rest of Scott's athletic committee in an effort to recommend a new coaching staff.

As the first interview process was underway, Williams suggested a co-head coaching arrangement involving friend and longtime Maumee coach Jim Robinson, along with some relatively inexperienced assistant coaches who were former Scott players, first Carnel Smith and then Larry Collins.

Williams' idea was to utilize Robinson's experience - absorbed through 35 seasons and 447 career wins compiled at eight high schools - to mentor an inexperienced coach, who would eventually move up.

But the Scott committee is not permitted to allow a "co-coaching" arrangement. Each of the seven TPS high schools - Bowsher, Libbey, Rogers, Scott, Start, Waite and Woodward - can hire one coach each for varsity, junior varsity and freshman basketball teams for its boys and girls programs.

The Scott committee interviewed more than 30 applicants for the varsity boys position, but no candidate received the minimum six votes necessary for hiring. Afterward, because of a new contract and various TFT guidelines, that committee was disbanded and a new one formed.

Heath was selected by a second Scott committee, which included four new members. After the first round of interviews was complete and the process stalled, the position had to be reposted for five days in late May. B

y that time, the administrative half of the committee replaced two members, and the TFT union half included two newly-elected members.

Johnson is a former Scott teacher and principal who came out of retirement by request to serve as acting principal from Jan. 5 through July 6 of this year. He said he intends to rejoin the athletic committee to help name the next basketball coach, if the process concludes before the end of his current contract. He was on the second committee but not the first.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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