Dunbar head coach Pete Pullen and assistant Darran Powell were belatedly approved coaching contracts for the boys high school basketball season during a Dayton Public Schools school board meeting Tuesday night.
They were added late Tuesday to an agenda to address 42 DPS employees who faced layoff, demotion or transfer, all of which were postponed until the end of the school year. Pullen’s contract was for $7,283 and Powell’s $4,600.
Pullen and Powell had been coaching the Dunbar boys varsity basketball team, which split two games during last weekend’s season-opening games. However, neither had realized his coaching contract hadn’t been approved until they were skipped in the two-week pay period last Friday.
They were the only ones on the staff who hadn’t been approved a coaching contract until Tuesday. Neither was present during practice Monday or Tuesday.
Powell also is Dunbar’s head football coach. The Wolverines missed the playoffs when the Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled Dunbar had used an academically ineligible player and forfeited Week 9-10 games. Pullen resigned as Dunbar’s athletic director soon afterward, admitting he miscalculated 9-week grading period credits for the ineligible player.
An investigation into allegations that Dunbar deliberately played the ineligible football player to enable City League member Belmont into the playoffs is ongoing by DPS and the OHSAA. Both Pullen and Powell were fearful the fallout from that might cost them their basketball coaching positions.
“I’m elated for the kids,” said Pullen, a teacher at the high school. “I’ve done this a long time and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. It would have been hard to walk away. It would have been tough on me and my family.”
Powell said his one-year renewable football coaching contract has not been addressed by DPS administration.
“I don’t know what’s going on with the situation,” said Powell, a paraprofessional at the school. “We just need to get to the bottom of everything so we can move forward. We had a great team and we’ve got a great team coming back. Hopefully, next year we don’t run into any issues like this.”
Several of Powell’s relatives spoke during the board meeting about the positive impact the two men have at the school. A Nashville, Tenn., native, Pullen, 62, initially coached Dunbar girls basketball, compiling a 109-29 record from 1998-2004 that included a 44-0 City League record. But it was boys basketball he excelled at and has maintained a championship legacy. Dunbar has won four Division II state titles since 2006 with Pullen as head coach and been to two other final fours.
Powell, a starting guard on the 2006 title team, has been Dunbar’s head football coach the last four seasons. His father and uncle, twins Alfred and Albert Powell, also are Dunbar football and basketball coaches.
“We’re in basketball season and we can move forward and deal with everything else as it comes,” Darran Powell said. “My family has been part of Dunbar before I was born. That’s all I’ve known growing up. I don’t know how I would have had to handle (leaving), especially under these circumstances.”
DPS athletic director Mark Baker did not attend the board meeting and did not respond to a request for comment. Dunbar’s next game is Friday at Belmont.