, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

July 4, 2013

Muskogee AD confused about district role: Maintains he didn’t make choice between wrestling and athletic director jobs

Muskogee Public Schools athletic director Bobby Jefferson is out of his wrestling job and isn’t sure how much input he has as athletic director.

Jefferson claims he “was given no notification of the action” to remove him as head wrestling coach, in a written statement to the Phoenix last week.

Contacted by phone Monday, Jefferson said the first indication he received of a decision to remove him as wrestling coach was when the job was posted last week.

Jefferson said he had a meeting that lasted more than an hour and “was all over the place about a lot of things” with assistant superintendent Jim Wilson on June 17. Jefferson said Wilson told him he had to choose to be either athletic director or wrestling coach within a day.

“This came up in the last 10 minutes,” Jefferson said. “I said I was happy with both and I wasn’t choosing.”

Superintendent Mike Garde received Jefferson’s written statement Wednesday and was asked for comment during a scheduled meeting with the Phoenix.

“For some reason, it was Jim’s understanding that he had made the decision to take the athletic director job,” Garde said, who said he then posted the wrestling coach job June 19.

Wilson was unavailable for comment. He did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

In a statement issued last week, Garde said the decision was based on the “complexities of an athletic director's position within a 6A school district.” Many Class 6A schools have full-time athletic directors.

In a phone conversation with the Phoenix last week, Garde said the idea “had been discussed for awhile.” Asked to specify what “awhile” meant, he said “three years,” adding “Bobby had been aware of that desire.”

In his email statement, Jefferson said his responsibilities as athletic director had been “vastly reduced.” He added he had been “ostracized and ignored” by Garde since he won an appeal of his dismissal last summer. The district sought unsuccessfully to terminate Jefferson with accusations of fraud on timesheets.

Jefferson said he  thinks the superintendent misunderstood a comment made about him relating to the hearing. Jefferson said Monday he has asked twice in writing and once verbally to prove that this was a remark made by his attorney and not him.

Garde said all necessary communication involving athletics was between Jefferson and Wilson, who was Jefferson’s immediate supervisor.

“He’s the AD, his supervisor was Jim Wilson, and I think they spent a lot of time talking about stuff. Ostracized? I think you’d have to talk to Jim,” Garde said.

Jefferson said oversight of coaches, hiring of coaches and oversight of all programs were among his duties that were impacted. He said a cheer coach was hired without his input.

Garde said Wednesday there was one applicant for that position. He also said he hasn’t changed any of Jefferson’s job duties.

“He was assigned to Jim Wilson,” Garde said. “So if anything was reduced, (Bobby) reduced it.”

“I don’t want to continue the debate with Bobby on whether he deserves this or not. He’s the athletic director. Nothing changed in his job responsibilities.”

Jefferson said he had to cancel a team camp scheduled for June 23-26 due to the “uncertainty of our coaching staff and lack of.” Assistant head coach Danny Jefferson was in Oklahoma City with two members of the team competing in the Junior National Duals. A daily wrestling camp, he said in the written statement, is at risk of being shut down.

“I was to handle the camp. Having been relieved of my duties, I did not,” Bobby Jefferson said.

Garde’s response: “Summer Pride is the district’s program during the summer. All our athletic programs are serviced through Summer Pride, so there’s no reason for this program to be served without people except that they chose to. Wrestling should be a part of Summer Pride. If they chose not to be served through Summer Pride, that’s not the district’s (business).”

Bobby Jefferson said he hasn’t been involved in any process for finding a new wrestling coach. Garde said MPS uses the same process to fill every position.

“And (Bobby) knows that process,” Garde said. “We’ll use the committee to interview and select. That committee includes members of the wrestling booster club, two board members, myself, the high school principal and the AD.”

Jefferson said he’s yet to hear anything on the subject from anyone.

“If I’m athletic director, you’d think I would,” Jefferson said Monday.

Jefferson meanwhile, says his concern is for the kids, particularly those in the wrestling program.

“I can take the hits in the nose,” Jefferson said. “My concern is where the kids fit in to all of this.”

Garde said Jefferson’s new supervisor will be Melony Carey, the secondary director of education.

“He’s the AD, we’re good with that and we need to move forward,” Garde said.

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