Archive for Thursday, May 13, 2004

Haas resigns as BHS head coach

May 13, 2004

Ending months of turmoil, Baldwin High School boys basketball coach Jeff Haas has submitted his resignation.

Haas, who has been BHS boys basketball coach for three years, submitted his resignation to the school board during an executive session Monday night. The special session, closed to the public, was scheduled to hear from the coach's detractors in the community, as well as his supporters.

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Following the first session with detractors, it was Haas' turn. Instead of pleading his case and balancing it with supporters, Haas submitted his resignation, which was eventually accepted by the board.

"I am, of course, not a quitter by nature," Haas said in the letter to the board. "I have earned every single advancement in my teaching and coaching career through countless hours of hard work. However, those who know me well also know that I willingly make sacrifices for others.

"It is in this spirit that I believe it is in the best interest of the players in our program, whose talents I believe in, for me to offer my resignation from the head coach position," he said.

Haas first came under fire last year, but criticism and unrest with the program intensified this year and culminated with a session scheduled between concerned patrons and Supt. James White in January. White said at the time that he listened to the concerns, but that's as far as it went.

This year's BHS team finished with a 9-13 overall record and a 5-4 record in Frontier League play. That came despite the team's best player, senior Andrew Hannon, missing 11 games because of injury.

"The perception I have witnessed outside Baldwin is that this year's team overachieved and did so under tough circumstances," said Haas. "Of course, there is a perception here among some that the team didn't live up to the standards of the other sports teams."

This year's seniors qualified for the state playoffs in football and cross country the past two years. On the girls' side, the volleyball, cross country and tennis teams also qualified for state. The girls basketball team didn't qualify for state, but won 20 games this year.

Despite numerous trips to state in other sports, neither basketball team has made the trip to state in Salina since Bobby Taul's boys' team finished third in 2000. Taul resigned three years ago to go to Topeka Hayden and Haas was chosen as his successor. Haas said that when he was hired, it was made clear to him what the emphasis in the district was.

"Upon my hiring, it was emphasized to me that the philosophy of the district was that building championship sports programs, while a desirable and worthwhile goal, was not to come in any way at the expense of academic aims," he said. "I have been exactly the right coach to fit that philosophy as emphasized during the hiring process."

Haas was also concerned about allegations that he would not discuss the team situation with parents or other concerned patrons.

"I have made clear at our parents' meeting every year that I have an 'open door' policy with regard to concerns from players and parents. Anyone who knows me knows I am a cooperative individual who understands that part of leadership is the willingness to be of service to those being led," he said. "Despite this, I did not once meet with any parents during our season."

He also wanted to make it clear that his resignation was not because of pressure from school district administrators.

"I want it perfectly clear to all those concerned that I am not resigning the coaching position as a result of administrative pressure. Allen Poplin and others on the administrative team have been supportive of my work in every area at BHS," said Haas. "My resignation from the coaching position is a direct result of the disappointment I have regarding the nearly constant indignities and the vague, mainly baseless criticisms I have endured, none of which should approach the level of considering a termination."

Both supporters and detractors contacted by the Signal to comment for this story declined.

In Haas' first year, BHS had a 10-12 overall record and was 5-4 in Frontier League play. In '03, the Bulldogs were 6-16 and 4-5. This past year, BHS finished at 9-13 and 5-4. That leaves his overall record at 25-41 and 14-13 in league.

Haas did not resign his teaching position.

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