A few weeks back, a study was released citing the frustration of coaches with parents, noting that things "have never been worse" in that department. A Minnesota high school coach has witnessed the worst of that firsthand, and it has gotten so bad at his high school that he has elected to walk away after five games.
Midway into his first season as the head coach at Red Wing HS (CT), John Ott decided that enough was enough, noting that he was subjected to "political harassment and forced favoritism" during his time leading the program in a charge being led by parents of his players, with some help from the administration that hired him.
In his resignation letter, Ott lays out a number of other issues that led to his decision to step away, as pointed out by an article on Inforum. One major reason was a group of parents who approached him concerned about playing time for their kids, and some kids changing positions because of a change in scheme. A few other alleged issues, including players quitting and then wanting to come back to the team at a later date were also pointed out in a previous article on Inforum.
“I cannot be employed by a district that allows parents to dictate where their child should be playing on the football field, nor can I consent to a parent to allow their child to continue to play football after their son has undermined the football team and staff by failing at a coordinated attempt to organize a walk out.”
“Members of a team have a responsibility to behave on and off the field in a way to contribute to the team’s effort to be as successful as it can. As a coach, that is my responsibility to uphold that obligation with support from administration. I do not have that support. I have always had a policy of not discussing playing time with parents, yet I have been thrust into two such meetings by administration where playing time was allowed to be discussed."
“It is imperative that the head coach has the ultimate say when it comes to playing time, which is why playing time is addressed in the football guidelines that the parents sign consent to, before their son is allowed to participate. Having been forced by administration to have these playing time meetings has been particularly damaging to the football team."
Ott's decision to step down was also influenced by former Minnesota State Senator John Howe, whose son plays on the team. Howe filed a formal complaint with the school citing bullying of his son based on their Republican family values. Below is Howe's official complaint to the school.
To address those issues brought up by Howe, Ott closed his letter of resignation by noting:
“Finally, at no time has anyone in the football program in any way, shape or form harassed anybody about anything. These accusations have been made formally by John Howe in front of the school board on (Oct. 3). Nothing could be further from the truth. I am truly flabbergasted that a parent was allowed to speak at a recent school board meting, as it was in direct violation of numeral three of the school district’s public comment guidelines. Because of this, I am also choosing to resign as a teacher with the district. I cannot be part of a district that fails to follow its own guidelines.”
Think about that. Ott was so bothered by the way he was treated, that he not only resigned his coaching position, he also resigned his job as teacher within the district. Resigning as a coach and giving up some stipend money is one thing, but the fact that he resigned from the job that helps to put food on the table speaks very loudly.
As a head coach, if you don't have the support of your administration, and are being thrown under the bus and undermined by the same people that are supposed to have your back, it's nearly impossible to do your job effectively. This should be a lesson to aspiring head coaches, and current head coaches, to make sure you and your administration are on the same page on important issues to avoid situations like what coach Ott ran into during his short tenure. If you don't see eye to eye on issues like how to deal with parents and similar issues, it's going to be really hard to build a program there.