MOUNT VERNON — Rumors of a resignation swirling around the East Knox High School football team were confirmed on Thursday afternoon. Head coach Tom Holton will step down following the 2009 season.
Holton made the announcement to his team on Monday afternoon. Requests for an interview regarding his decision were denied.
East Knox School superintendent John Marschhausen confirmed some of the facts around the resignation in an interview on Thursday. A group of players’ parents met the week of Sept. 14 to discuss some issues they had about members of the coaching staff, and Marschhausen was in attendance.
“I attended (a parent’s meeting held at the Dan Emmett Conference Center) and the reason I did is because since I’ve been here, I’ve always stressed the importance of communication,” said Marschhausen, who is in his fifth year as superintendent. “I’ve always stated my willingness to meet with people anyplace and anytime to discuss our schools. I felt it important for me to continue with that sentiment.
“The parents expressed some concerns and those concerns were discussed with the administration and our athletic director Mr. (Derrick)Busenburg, and ultimately, it led to a discussion I had with the coaching staff. There, I shared and communicated what the parents’ concerns were with the staff so that if there was any validity to those concerns, we could take the appropriate steps to see that those concerns were taken care of.”
Marschhausen would not discuss with the News any specifics regarding parents concerns.
Marschhausen said Holton, a 22-year assistant at East Knox before becoming head coach four years ago, has been a good example and his abilities as a coach were never an issue. Holton’s most recent evaluation from 2007 gave him high marks. On a scale of 1 to 3, with three being the highest, Holton scored a 3 in all categories.
“We’ve never questioned his abilities. I’ve got the utmost faith in Coach Holton, Coach Looney and the staff,” said Marschhausen. “We’ve been blessed at East Knox. For the last 39 years, we’ve have Chet Looney or Tom Holton providing stability and excellent leadership for the young men in this community. That’s almost four decades of coaching.”
Marschhausen confirmed that he had never discussed anything along these lines with Holton in the past.
Holton’s decision to step down was made of his own volition, according to Marschhausen. The timing of the announcement was also his call.
“Coach Holton made this decision. He indicated to us on Monday morning that was what he was going to tell the team,” said Marschhausen. “I don’t know why he decided to make this announcement to the team now, but it was his decision. There was no administrative pressure. I think he felt it was important to be upfront with his players.”
Marschhausen was disappointed by the announcement, but understood. He said according to the Ohio Revised Code, all supplemental contracts are done on a year-to-year basis, so Holton didn’t have to do anything but not re-apply after the season was over.
“As a teacher, he has won numerous awards and is a very well respected community member and educator in our district,” Marschhausen said. “(His decision) is disappointing, but it is always disappointing when you see somebody who feels like they can’t continue in their current position. ... I believe he is going to continue teaching. He has not given any indication to the contrary.
“Technically, we don’t need anything from coach Holton. All he would have to do is not re-apply for the job. Teachers have the first opportunity to apply for them; also, if there are qualified people on staff, we give them the first crack at any supplemental jobs. There is no formal resignation that needs to take place.”
Already off to an 0-4 start, the Bulldogs play Centerburg at home tonight. Marschhausen is hoping the players can learn from this experience and rise above it.
“My hope is that we use all opportunities as learning experiences, even opportunities that are challenging for us,” said Marschhausen. “We need to turn around, get through this adversity and teach these young men that we fight through adversity and always work to improve. I look forward to our student-athletes coming out (tonight) and giving 100 percent. Hopefully, we will take it to the Trojans.”