MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Association (WVSACA) is asking Governor Jim Justice to veto a bill that recently sailed through both state legislative bodies that could affect future school employees who retire from their fulltime positions but choose to continue coaching. HB 3266, introduced by Delegate Joe Statler (R-51st District), deals with all extracurricular assignments and has drawn particular interest from coaches across the state.
The bill states that any extracurricular contract will terminate when a school employee retires, essentially requiring the employee to reapply for the contract, including coaching positions. Statler said on WAJR’s Talk of the Town that the intent of the bill was to allow schools a better way to manage all extracurricular contracts.
“Some contracts are a little more difficult to manage when the employee is no longer at the school site every day,” Statler said. “The administrators wanted a way that they could look at that and control that upon retirement. We looked at what they had wanted and I did talk to present administrators in Monongalia County prior to when I got elected in November, I had a meeting with them early in December and said, ‘What can I help you with?’ This was one of the things that was an issue that needed resolved.”
Charles Maynard, Executive Director of the WVSACA, objects to coaches being included in the legislation.
“We want to know for what reason the West Virginia Department of Education included coaches in this bill that had to do with bus drivers to begin with,” Maynard said on MetroNews Talkline.
The bill passed 33-0 in the Senate and 92-4 in the House of Delegates. Statler says his spoke with several school administrators prior to introducing the bill.
“I did have a chance meeting with Mr. (Bernie) Dolan of the SSAC passing in the hallway at the Capitol. I told him this bill was going to be coming forward. I contacted, again, administrators and I did contact athletic directors, present and past and also some coaches to talk to them about the issue and asked them if there were any concerns they had.
“I don’t understand why they were caught off guard with it. It passed the final hurdle on April 9th. It spent, from the time I introduced it, probably two to three weeks in the process back and forth. I did not receive any emails, communications or anything about the bill all together.”
University High School’s John Kelley is the most-tenured head football coach in the state and is entering his 35th season leading the Hawks. He is also the Region XI member on the WVSACA.
“Was this age discriminatory? Is this a problem? Is it a reason to try to get rid of somebody? There’s other methods already in place if someone is not satisfactorily doing their job that you can remove them,” Kelley said on WAJR’s Talk of the Town.
Kelley cited a shortage of rising young coaches as a reason to oppose the bill.
“If you had somebody waiting in the wings and you had somebody beating down the door to become coaches, it might be understandable. But the bottom line is that there is a tremendous shortage of professional educators available for the coaching positions that come up.”
The bill would grandfather in all current extracurricular contracts and only applies to employees who retire after July 1, 2021.
“Governor Justice, or coach Justice, is a basketball coach at Greenbrier East. If he would retire as governor, he could keep his job forever because he is not a teacher. He is not retiring from teaching,” Kelley said.