Dayton Schools renew contract for athletic director amid controversy

Dayton’s school board approved a two-year contract renewal for district athletic director Mark Baker, in the wake of major state penalties imposed on Dayton Public Schools athletic programs.

The vote was 5-1, with board member Joe Lacey strongly objecting and Hazel Rountree absent. Baker declined comment after the vote.

Last fall, Dunbar’s football team used an ineligible player in two games, causing them to forfeit those games and be knocked out of the playoffs. The eligibility issue was missed by coaches, athletic directors and the principal.

WATCH: Video emerges of controversial play

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But during the final game of the season, there was a back-and-forth debate over the star player’s eligibility. Once it was established, after he had already played, that he was ineligible, Dunbar officials told players to lose the game on purpose, believing they might still have an avenue to make the playoffs.

The Dunbar coaches said that directive came from Baker, but Baker denied it during subsequent investigations.

Lacey argued that DPS was not taking the issue of “throwing the game” seriously, calling it an unprecedented violation in Ohio high school sports, and saying the district appeared not to want to investigate it.

“It looked like there were attempts to not investigate the decision of this district to throw a game, to instruct students to cheat,” Lacey said. “The rallying around the people responsible for this really disgusts me.”

Board members Adil Baguirov, Robert Walker and Ron Lee argued that the focus should be on the new policies the district was putting in place to make sure this never happens again, saying it is time to look forward, rather than back.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association placed all DPS athletic programs on three years of probation, fined them $10,000 and ordered administrators to undergo training, citing the district for “a lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control.”

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