Football players, parents and staff members at Union Local spoke on behalf of head football coach Mark Cisar at a special meeting called by the board on Tuesday, Nov. 27 asking the board to consider character, not a winning record in making a decision about the coaching position.
Those who spoke said Cisar was a man of character who worked hard and cared about his players and students.
Cisar, who also serves as the district’s athletic director, did not attend the meeting. At the Nov. 15 school board meeting, he was named head baseball coach, replacing Rich Mercer. A day later, Cisar turned in his resignation as head football coach because he was told that he did not have the full board’s support in renewing his contract. Cisar decided to resign rather than fight the board’s decision. Cisar said he discussed his decision with his players. Cisar said he would continue his AD and baseball coaching responsibilities and might consider coaching football at another school.
Since assuming control at UL in 2006, Cisar has taken thethe Jets to their only two playoff appearances in the school’s 50-year history. Despite those accomplishments, the Jets have only won two of their last 30 football games,
Mercer, a former assistant football coach at the school, was one of many who spoke at the special board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Mercer said whomever the board hires to coach the football team needs more support.
“They [the coach] need to know in their heart that they have the entire support of the board and the administration so that they can do what they need to do,” Mercer said. “Programming changes are needed. It’s not about the coach The entire attitude [of the players and the board] needs to change.”
Jeremy Eberhart, a 2007 UL graduate, said changing coaches would be a mistake. He said when he played football at UL, he had three different coaches n four years.
“You cannot build a program when the coaches are changing,” he said.
He went on to criticize the board’s handling of the situation.
“The school board is in the headlines of the sports section more than our football team and that is ridiculous.” Eberhart said.
Senior linebacker Brandon Winesickle was the first of many football players to speak.
He said that to base Coach Cisar’s career on wins and losses was unfair.
Junior defensive back Travis James, who said he was a water boy for Cisar as a fifth grader, said he thought it disrespectful to the players for the board to discuss firing Cisar without asking for their input.
“The record doesn’t show it, but we are a family,” James said.
Zack Palmer, a 2012 graduate who played running back said, “You will never find a better man. Cisar is in this school more than with his family. He considers us his family. He cares and is there for us. I know that. He has stuck through and never given up on any of us.”
Cyle Cole, an assistant coach under Cisar, said, “If you think these losses don’t hurt him or any other member of the coaching staff, that is a misconception.”
Cole was one of many who referenced the fact that Cisar was the first in school history to lead the team to a football championship.
“I don’t know what you are looking for here. I really don’t,” said Cole.
“Who has a resume like him,” asked Ruthie Martin, a 20-year employee of the district who has been following UL football for over 30 years.
“He cares about his players, on and off the field,” she said. “Winning is a good feeling, but it is not the most important feeling.”
Ron Taylor asked, “Is winning more important than bringing up these young people the way they should be? If it is, then I think we should consider replacing the board.”
“I know he is an asset,” Heath Smith said. “If you do not hire him as football coach, I think whomever does get him will be getting a prize.”
“To turn your back on him would be a travesty,” said Ernie Martin. “I have never seen anyone coach like he does and get into it the way he does.”
At the meeting, Board President Ed Stenger said the board met in executive session following the November board meeting, but that no decision about the head football coaching position had yet been made. After listening to the comments, the board entered into executive session to consider employment of a public employee or official and to consider matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or regulations or state statutes. Stenger told those in attendance, that no decision would be made following the executive session. Superintendent Kirk Glasgow said board members would likely make a decision about the coaching position during the next regular meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m., Dec. 13 in the high school library.