CHEYENNE – They’re still absorbing the fact that they won’t receive their full stipend.
Now, they’ve been dealt another blow.
The Wyoming High School Activities Association this week sent out a survey to superintendents, administrators and athletics directors across the state, asking for their thoughts about the spring sports season that remains in limbo due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown and his senior leadership team signed off on the survey and suggested to “suspend all sports for the rest of the season” without any input from spring sports coaches, WyoSports has learned. ADs were notified of the survey, but did not have any input on a decision.
“(We) didn’t expect it,” a local AD told WyoSports on Friday on the condition of anonymity.
“We did it through the administration,” Brown told WyoSports, “(and) the senior leadership team, (which includes) … all the associate superintendents, superintendents and directors and associate directors.”
Asked whether there was any consideration of involving spring sports coaches in the decision, Brown said, “Not at this time.”
No decision has been made by the WHSAA, but one is expected to be announced in a “week or two,” according to a source familiar with the situation. But Brown and the LCSD1 senior leadership team made their opinion known: “(We) felt like they should follow what the colleges and professional sports are doing,” he said.
Last week, LCSD1 sent an email to all spring sports coaches saying their stipends would be reduced to one-sixth of normal reimbursement, and the decision didn’t sit well with many. Being left off from the survey had the same impact.
“It’s just a second slap in the face from senior leadership in this district not even asking me what I think about it,” one local coach told WyoSports. “Why coach in a school district that doesn’t value coaching? And I can answer that for myself: I do it for the love of my sport and the love my players and the love of my school. But to not have any kind of support or recognition of its importance at the senior leadership level, I think is very telling in their value of athletics, the value of their coaches. And I think it even shows that they don’t value their athletes very much because they’re not doing anything and everything they can to get ‘em back … and experience their sport and everything that comes with it.”
Not only was the first local coach skeptical of the decision, but they tied it back to the reduction of pay.
“It’s the first thing that comes into my mind as a coach is, ‘Well, of course you’re going to vote to suspend a season because you’ve already suspended our pay, and you don’t want to have to go back to paying us whatever you would – the two-sixths or three-sixths that you would end up paying,” the coach said.
A former coach went even further.
“It’s a real shot in the back with how they’re treating coaches compared to how they’re treating other people, especially with all the extra work they do,” the former coach said.
A second local coach felt left in the dark by the decision.
“I wish there would be some communication, like, ‘Hey, coaches, this is what we’re thinking about doing.’ At least tell us that our voice matters,” the second local coach said. “It’s heartbreaking. Not the way I wanted it to go.”
A third local coach said the decision felt like a “low blow” on top of what they were told from the start.
“When everything first came out, they said all employees are going to be paid. Well, you know, the only thing I do for the school district is coach,” the third coach said. “So, he says that (and) I actually will not be paid since he’s not paying, at this point, coaches. So, that makes that statement a lie. And then previously, when he said, ‘It’s not like we’re not paying them for teaching.’ Well, I don’t teach. I only coach for you. So, you’re not paying me at all.”
Brown said the survey does not ensure that all spring sports coaches won’t be paid the rest of their stipends, and said the district has not “talked about how that might work if (the seasons are) totally canceled.”
“You know,” Brown continued, “I don’t know how (this) would make them feel.”