IHSAA chief: Gary high schools need athletic directors
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 September 10, 2013 8:38PM
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:25AM
GARY — The commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association told a school board committee Tuesday that the Lew Wallace STEM Academy and West Side Leadership Academy need athletic directors in their buildings to stem systemic scheduling and communication conflicts.
Bobby Cox told the board’s Student and Family Services committee that Gary is the only school district in Indiana that allocates just one hour a day for the duties of athletic director at the two schools. Most schools have full-time athletic directors who schedule games, officials, transportation, and meetings.
“This school corporation is the only one in the state where there are two comprehensive high schools and not even a half-time athletic director in the building,” Cox said. “That becomes problematic. Many situations in the past few years could have been avoided if there was a designated person in the building. You can’t do it in one hour.”
In May, Cox said both West Side and Lew Wallace baseball teams failed to show up for their IHSAA-sanctioned baseball sectional games. Cox labeled the incidences as “fairly egregious.”
Cox said he’s working with Gary in response to other IHSAA-member schools that have voiced concerns about scheduling games with Gary. “I have to answer to 412 schools. It’s difficult for me to defend.”
Last spring, the district didn’t renew the contract of city athletic director Earl Smith Jr. He retired and Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt named Milton Patch, the district’s transportation director, to also serve as citywide athletic director.
Cox said there’s been a better line of communication since Pruitt and Patch came on board. Patch recently created accountability and security documents required by the IHSAA.
“It’s my belief Mr. Patch has a great command of the programs in the district. I say that with the caveat that we cannot become complacent,” Cox said.
Pruitt said the district will review its budget and determine if there is funding for the high school athletic directors. If not, she said the district will explore hiring retired school personnel who can serve as athletic directors. Cox said the IHSAA would train the retirees, making sure they’re familiar with new guidelines.
“We’ll make sure we’re in compliance and serving our students,” Pruitt said.
Cox said he hopes to work with Gary to “build a new culture.”