Roosevelt coaches still waiting to be paid
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter:@MikeHuttonPT December 11, 2012 11:22PM
Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy assistant coach Robert Moore, right, works with players during practice in Gary Oct. 10, 2012. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 13, 2013 11:12AM
In the spirit of the holiday season, Edison Learning is expected to deliver checks to its football coaches at Roosevelt on Friday — nearly six weeks after they were due to be paid.
Robert “House” Moore, an assistant for Jeff Karras, will believe the money is there when the check for about $3,000 is in his hands. Roosevelt administrators had indicated the checks would arrive on Nov. 18. They were contractually due on Nov. 4, according to Moore.
For Moore, Karras, Larry Banks and Mel Hay, all coaches for the Panthers, it’s not about the money.
It’s about responsibility, following through on a commitment, professionalism and, like paying the people that work for you. Really, isn’t that part of the obligation for a business, which is what Edison is — one that was paid $850,000 last year by the state to essentially formulate a turnaround plan.
And, well, it is a little about the money. Christmas is coming, you know. The extra loose change could come in handy. According to Karras, none of the coaches for fall sports have been paid yet.
For Moore, the late checks are symbolic of what turned out to be a forgettable experience — not with the kids — but with a poorly executed plan that has forced Roosevelt to retreat and regroup again for its football program. Karras and his staff arrived in the second week of practice after athletic director AJ Rodriguez fired Eric Yarbrough. Rodriguez has since resigned his post as AD. Moore feels more responsible about what happened because Rodriguez had first approached him about taking the head job. He didn’t want it and recommended working with Karras instead as an assistant.
“It’s been bad business all around,” Moore said.
Moore said that there has been no clear explanation from anyone at Edison about why the checks are late. Karras said he had been in contact with the human resources administrators on site at Roosevelt, who are sympathetic about the situation. Karras is confident the checks will be there on Friday — though he said they should arrive with interest because of all the headaches his staff has encountered. Karras was fired on Oct. 19, which was the day of the first round of the playoffs.
“I laid it on pretty heavy the last time we talked,” Karras said. “Let’s just say the next call they get won’t be coming from me.”
For Moore, the lack of a paycheck so far was just meant to be. He said it was nearly impossible for Roosevelt administrators to do something as simple as getting onto the practice field on some days when locks were broken and no keys were in sight. Several times, the team spent more than an hour waiting for someone to come from Roosevelt to get it on the field. He also said administrators rented out the field to the junior varsity Bowman team a handful of times without telling the coaches, mucking up their practice times.
In the end, Karras and the staff spent a lot of their time and money fixing problems without any expectation of ever getting anything back. That included helping to paint the lines on the football field, fixing the lighting in the locker room and spending out-of-pocket money on equipment.
Moore said he bought three pairs of cleats for kids. He estimates he spent about $3,000 of his own money on stuff.
“I personally feel neglected,” he said. “You expect to get paid to coach.”
Todd McIntire, the vice president of operations for Edison, has no idea why the coaches haven’t been paid yet or why the checks are supposed to be cut Friday. He said it’s a local issue. Roosevelt principal Terrence Little didn’t return a phone call inquiring about the delay.
None of this lack of clarity is surprising to Moore.
A native of Gary’s midtown neighborhood, Moore had played for all three Karrases: Teddy, his dad Teddy Sr. and Jeff at Andrean and then at St. Xavier in Chicago. He wanted to cap off his experience with the Karras family as an assistant for Jeff.
He at least got that much out of the deal, which ended badly for everyone involved.
His advice to Roosevelt is to forget about football and focus on academics and other sports that are more manageable. Football is too complicated with too many kids and too many resources to try to figure out for a school that really is essentially a start-up.
“They just don’t have the parental or educational resources to do it right now,” he said.
Moore, unfortunately, is probably right.