Coach whose offer was rescinded says Fairborn was aware of lawsuit

District spokeswoman: ‘We need to do our homework better’

UPDATE @ 1:50 p.m. (Feb. 10)

Fairborn aware of lawsuit, says football coach who lost job offer

Britton Devier, who had his offer to coach Fairborn High School’s football team rescinded Monday night by the school board four days after its approval, said the search committee knew all about the hazing allegations in a federal civil lawsuit.

Devier, reached today by phone in Alabama, was dismissed last month as a defendant in the suit brought by parents of a Woodmore High School player they said suffered a traumatic brain injury during what they called a coach-sanctioned hazing drill in September 2013. Devier also was not a party to the out-of-court settlement reached last month.

“It’s an unfortunate deal all the way around, the incident at Woodmore and what happened at Fairborn,” Devier said today. “I think I would have done a great job, and I think by them rescinding the offer, I think it made things worse.”

UPDATE @ 3:10 p.m. (Feb. 9)

District spokeswoman Pam Gayheart said Tuesday afternoon that the district was generally aware of the existence of a lawsuit, but didn’t know the details until district officials saw social media posts referencing the hiring of Devier during Thursday’s school board meeting.

“We basically Google searched it and what was on Google — after going through several areas of Google and looking further, that’s when we realized it probably wasn’t going to be a good match for Fairborn, Gayheart said. “And, in truth, we need to do our homework better.”

Gayheart said athletics director Micah Harding and principal Gene Lolli were involved in the football coaching search, but she didn’t have the names of the full search committee.

EARLIER REPORT (Feb. 9)

One week after naming its new football coach, Fairborn City Schools board met Monday in an emergency session to rescind the offer made to Britton Devier.

Two years ago, Devier, then a coach at Woodmore High School in northwest Ohio, was named in a civil lawsuit after parents of a player claimed their son had suffered a traumatic brain injury during a coach-sanctioned hazing drill in September 2013.

“Upon further research and reflection, the board decided that he would not be a good fit for Fairborn City Schools and therefore the offer of employment has been rescinded,” according to a statement from the district.

District spokeswoman Pam Gayheart declined to comment further.

The board originally voted Feb. 4 to approve the employment of Devier, who would have been on a one-year limited contract to be a certified teacher for the 2016-17 school year and on a one-year supplemental contract to be the head football coach.

Media outlets reported that a grand jury declined to file criminal charges in the case.

In February 2014, the player’s parents, Daniel and Amy Sprinski Jr., of Elmore, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Toledo against Woodmore Local Schools; Devier; and former assistant coach Todd Bringman, according to The Associated Press. Devier stepped down as Woodmore’s coach in March 2014.

The civil case was settled out of court in December, and the lawsuit was officially dismissed in January, according to court records.

Fairborn decided in November to not renew the contract of longtime coach Roy Thobe.

Thobe spent 14 seasons as Fairborn’s head coach, compiling an overall record of 50-90.

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