Dayton’s school board on Tuesday hired Corey Freed as the new coach of Dunbar’s football team, despite a large outpouring of support for Darran Powell, who has coached the team the past five years.
Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said she couldn’t answer questions about Freed’s coaching background, referring those questions to new Athletic Director Shawna Welch, who was not at the school board meeting. Lolli said Freed was hired last month as a teacher at Dunbar.
According to prep football websites, Freed coached the past few years at Waco and McGregor High Schools in Texas.
Multiple Dunbar athletes, parents and current coaches spoke out in favor of Powell. Ciential Vaughn, who will be a junior at Dunbar this fall, said the school board doesn’t understand the depth of connection players had with Powell and his assistants, from football, to school, to staying out of trouble.
“Young coaches out there are like father figures for the kids who don’t have a father, such as myself,” Vaughn said. “That’s like my family. There’s not one day that I can’t call and tell them I need something, that they’re going to help. It’s like y’all are breaking up my family. … I can honestly say I love every coach on that staff, and I’d do anything to get them back.”
LAST YEAR: DPS re-hires Powell after much debate
The Powell family has coached at Dunbar for decades. Alfred Powell, a longtime coach, said his nephew Darran went far beyond football, pulling kids out of crack houses and going to gang meetings to keep the gangs away from his players.
School board member Robert Walker asked the board to hold a separate vote on Freed’s hiring, rather than lumping it with 230 other personnel moves. Walker and John McManus were the two school board members to vote against Freed’s hiring. The four newly elected board members joined Sheila Taylor in voting for Freed.
Walker said he had problems with the search process. Last month, Freed was listed on the school board agenda to be hired as the coach, days before Darran Powell had even been interviewed. The hiring was delayed, but Tuesday’s result ended up the same.
Lolli said Freed comes highly recommended as a teacher, which is her first priority. She also spoke highly of Powell.
“Coach Powell is an outstanding coach and an outstanding gentleman. I know him personally and enjoy working with him,” Lolli said. “I’m hopeful that in the future he will be working with our young people. … I believe it was just a matter of interviewing, and the team that interviewed making a decision that they thought would be a good decision for Dunbar.”
Powell was Dunbar’s coach in 2016 when a team headed for the playoffs was ousted because it used an ineligible player. The team then briefly tried to lose a game on purpose to engineer a certain playoff outcome. The Powells have said former district AD Mark Baker directed coaches to try to lose. Baker denied that, while OHSAA officials implicated Baker.
Powell, a 2006 Dunbar grad, was nearly ousted as coach last summer before the school board reversed direction and rehired him. In 2017, Dunbar reached the second round of the playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Trotwood-Madison.
The school board hired Robert Brown to coach Meadowdale’s football team, after Len Hampton led the Lions last year, and approved Allen Spears to coach Ponitz basketball, after Steven Pittman held that post last year. Art Winston was hired to return as Belmont basketball coach.
Last month, the district re-hired football coaches Brian Carter (Thurgood Marshall) and Earl White (Belmont), while approving Ryan Jackson to replace the retired Jim Place at Ponitz. They also re-hired basketball coaches Dwayne Chastain (Meadowdale), Shawn McCullough (Thurgood) and Felix Turner (Stivers).
The only DPS high school football or boys basketball coaching position that remains open is Dunbar basketball, which was the center of an eligibility nightmare this spring resulting in a legal fight with the OHSAA and then a public apology. Chuck Taylor coached the team last season.