NAACP says OHSAA decision unfair, wasn’t about re-wording

Derrick L. Foward, NAACP Dayton Unit president (center), and education chair Lauretta Williams (left) said Dunbar High School coaches and athletic directors should be punished by the OHSAA, not all athletic teams from all DPS schools. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Derrick L. Foward, NAACP Dayton Unit president (center), and education chair Lauretta Williams (left) said Dunbar High School coaches and athletic directors should be punished by the OHSAA, not all athletic teams from all DPS schools. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The Dayton Unit of the NAACP on Thursday refuted that it lobbied for the Ohio High School Athletic Association to restructure its reprimand verbiage to Dayton Public Schools.

It also maintained that the association should target Dunbar football coaches, its former athletic director and DPS director of athletics only.

MARK BAKER: OHSAA implicates him in DPS ruling

Dayton unit president Derrick L. Foward and education chair Lauretta Williams held a news conference at the local chapter's West Third Street headquarters to address the previous day's announcement by the OHSAA that it had substituted the phrase "enforceable review" for the word "probation."

“It wasn’t that we wanted the word changed,” Foward said. “You’re putting the whole school district on probation. … It was never about re-wording.”

WHO’S TO BLAME? DPS, OHSAA point in different directions

Foward encouraged DPS to appeal the OHSAA ruling. He also said the Ohio Civil Rights Commission would be contacted “to look at the unjust and inequities in the penalty. It’s not something the NAACP is going to stand for.”

The local unit met with the OHSAA last month in response to an unprecedented penalty of placing the entire school district — high schools and middle schools — on three years athletics probation, fining DPS $10,000 and requiring more administrative training. Affected are all boys and girls athletic programs at all DPS schools.

2 BIZARRE PLAYS: Something went wrong on the field

The OHSAA made its ruling following a lengthy investigation into allegations that DPS director of athletics Mark Baker instructed Dunbar coaches to forfeit or lose a Week 10 football game to Belmont last season. It is believed to be the most severe penalty in OHSAA history.

Foward and Williams had asked the OHSAA to redirect its punishment to Dunbar football coaches, then-Dunbar AD Pete Pullen and Baker. Pullen has since resigned as AD. In his first school year in the position, Baker recently was approved a two-year contract extension by a 5-1 school-board vote.

“It was a misunderstanding, even though we clearly stated what we were requesting and that was to place the punishment on where it belonged, on the adults, not the children,” Williams said. “This was an adult issue.”

DPS REACTS: To OHSAA ruling

OHSAA director of information services Tim Stried reconfirmed Thursday its position with the NAACP: That it would not lift the penalty on DPS but would strike the word “probation” from the reprimand because of a perceived negative connotation.

“We thought both sides agreed to that outcome,” Stried said. “We left the meeting with that understanding.”

Also on Thursday the OHSAA for the first time cited Baker for violations of Bylaw 3, which governs administrative responsibility and institutional control.

“The reason that all DPS schools are on probation is that the major infraction, on the suggestion of throwing the game, was from the director of athletics for DPS,” Stried said. “As long as that person is still in charge of all DPS schools (for athletics), they’re all going to be on probation.”

The OHSAA cannot determine coaching and administrator personnel for member districts and schools, but it can make its point in other ways. No football playoff games were held at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium last fall, denying a financial windfall. A Dayton landmark visible from Interstate-75, the stadium has hosted more playoff games than any other venue since the playoffs began in 1972.

DPS could lose its OHSAA membership should another similar infraction occur. However, if there are none in the first two years, the third year will be dismissed and $2,500 of the fine will be returned.

“I don’t believe our students or their parents want us to take that risk,” Williams said. “Do we take that chance of one other coach committing one other infraction?”

None of the DPS fall coaches in any sport have been named and all candidates recently underwent additional interviews. New coaching stipulations also have been added, alluding to prior OHSAA infractions or discipline. Also new, building athletic directors — there’s one for each of the six high schools Baker oversees — will not be allowed to coach.

A separate DPS investigation concluded Baker did not instruct Dunbar to lose and instead blamed Dunbar coaches for playing an academically ineligible player.

“Had they not played the child, we would not be in the situation that we’re in,” DPS superintendent Rhonda Corr said during a town hall meeting Wednesday.

FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

WHIO-TV’s Kate Bartley contributed to this report.

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