A major controversy broke out in the Texas high school ranks last month when a reigning state champion coach was nearly forced out of his job for what many in the community viewed as simply racial politics.
Todd Peterman led DeSoto to a long-awaited Class 6A Division II championship last season -- the school's first after years of knocking on the door -- in his second season as head coach. (He was on staff for seven years as an assistant before that.) Rather than handing their champion coach an extension and a raise, the DeSoto school board debated last week whether to renew his contract at all.
No one from the school board stated why exactly Peterman's career was on the chopping block, leading many in the community to believe race was the issue. Peterman is white, leading a predominantly black program in a south Dallas suburb. Last month's meeting stretched from the evening to nearly midnight with no resolution one way or the other, the school board saying it needed more time to "address questions and concerns," leading to a make-or-break meeting on Monday night.
Before a standing room only audience featuring a large presence supporting Peterman, the DeSoto school board voted to renew all contracts with nary a word addressed toward the controversy the board invited upon the city last month, nor the "questions and concerns" the board needed an extra two weeks to supposedly investigate.
"Todd Peterman will be in place next year," board president Carl Sherman, Jr., told the Dallas Morning News, "and we're very excited about it."
With his career up in the air for two weeks, Peterman wasn't satisfied with a simple rubber-stamping to continue working. He received a 1-year contract extension, which DeSoto says is standard operating procedure for all coaches.
"I have been a moral and ethical coach here on and off the field for 10 years," Peterman told the paper. "It's a shame that none of that got said tonight."
Additional reporting by WFAA-TV uncovered an anonymous letter accusing Peterman of changing grades and harboring recruits at his home.
"Those are comical," Peterman told the station. "If you read the letter in it's entirety, you know it's absolutely -- there's no truth to it. I have nothing else to say about it. It's a joke."
The letter was sent to DeSoto officials in December, so it's not clear why the school board needed extra time in late April and early May to investigate the claims. And we still don't know because, again, the school board didn't address the letter or anything else related to Peterman on Monday.
The two sides reached an uneasy peace for another year, but the events of the last two weeks haven't done anything to unite the DeSoto football community or calm the fears from the original controversy.
The program itself was united behind Peterman throughout the ordeal, so the Eagles will defend their state title while playing against the team across the line of scrimmage and its own school board.