A prolonged series of unprecedented events that left Dunbar High School without a head football coach since last season came to an emotionally charged end Tuesday night when the Dayton Public Schools board of education voted 6-1 to reinstate Darran Powell.
»RELATED: More missing money from DPS athletics
Although he wasn’t at the board meeting, many Powell supporters were, including much of his coaching staff from last season who have been coordinating summer workouts.
“I appreciated everybody’s support,” said Powell, who was out of town when contacted by phone. “I’m looking forward to moving forward and I’m glad to be back on my feet.”
The events since last year’s regular-season finale have rocked the school district. They include:
• An academically ineligible player that forced Dunbar to forfeit two games, miss the playoffs and reshuffle postseason qualifiers and first-round positioning.
• Accusations by Dunbar coaches that DPS director of athletics Mark Baker instructed Dunbar should lose to Belmont in Week 10. By doing so, it was hoped both teams would qualify for the postseason and the academically ineligible Dunbar player wouldn’t have to be reported.
• The resignation of then-Dunbar athletic director Pete Pullen soon afterward.
• An investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association that didn’t name anyone, but concluded there was a violation of its administrative responsibility and institutional control bylaw. The result was a three-year probation of all DPS boys and girls athletics programs and a $10,000 fine. That is thought to be the harshest and most widespread penalty in OHSAA’s 100-plus year history.
• Saying “It’s not something the NAACP is going to stand for,” Derrick Foward, president of the Dayton Unit of the NAACP, vowed to appeal the OHSAA ruling.
• A video of two Dunbar plays in which the Wolverines appeared to be throwing the Belmont game became an Internet sensation.
• Powell initially was denied retaining the position by a board vote last month. However, James Lacking, who Powell succeeded as Dunbar’s coach and was the No. 2 candidate, declined to accept the position when offered last week.
Citing a lack of remorse from Powell, board member Joe Lacey cast the only no vote Tuesday. Previously, the vote was 3-2 in favor of retaining Powell, but a majority four yes votes were needed.
Following an executive session to address Powell’s rehiring, each board member expressed head-shaking remorse for the drawn-out events and statewide attention.
“What he did was something wrong,” said Lacey, suggesting Powell should have known not to play an academically ineligible player. “I understand that he did it at somebody else’s direction, but that person did not hold a gun to his head. (Powell) was a co-conspirator in a cheating scandal that has infected an entire (school) district.”
Board member Hazel Rountree lamented there was no formal opportunity for Powell or anyone else to “say I’m sorry,” she said. “Not only to the board, but to the community.”
Board member Ron Lee, who initially abstained from voting, said, “I’m pointing my finger at adults. This ain’t about no championship. It’s about teaching children how to function in this world and go forward and lying ain’t one of them.”
Board member Sheila Taylor admonished Powell, then flipped her initial vote from no to yes. “There’s going to be accountability from now on,” she said, referring to all DPS athletic personnel. “The game has changed.”
Board member Adil Baguirov said the district needs to make sure something like this never happens again, but added that if it did, DPS’ “much-improved athletic department” would be better prepared to handle it.
But if another incident related to game-throwing or lack of institutional control happens while DPS is on probation, the district’s OHSAA membership could be revoked. Lacey has voted against the re-hiring of both Baker and Powell, taking a vocal stand against those involved in the game-throwing.
“They’re not taking it seriously,” Lacey said of possible punishment for future infractions. “We could end up not having any opportunity to go into postseason. … That’s our students’ hopes and dreams, and their college opportunities. I don’t know what they’re thinking.”
DAYTON CITY LEAGUE
Belmont: Earl White
Dunbar: Darran Powell
Meadowdale: Len Hampton Jr.
Ponitz: Jim Place
Thurgood Marshall: Brian Carter