Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Henderson County Coach Suspended

Our little corner of the world gets its fair share of big news. This news, in and of itself, is not on the scale of the two girls bodies that were found in the strip pit recently. But to me, it’s newsworthy.

Let me preface this with saying that I don’t like the Henderson County football program. I didn’t like it when Tom Duffy, Sr. coached them. I don’t like them now that Tom Duffy, Jr. coaches them. But I wouldn’t wish what happened to that program on anyone. On July 19th, Ryan Owens, a player on the team, died during practice.

There’s been no small controversy surrounding Owens’ death. The heat index that day was very high and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association had established rules regarding practice during high heat indices. According to the guidelines, coaches much consult an instrument on-site to measure heat index. Duffy, Jr. had stated that he did so, but later it was discovered that he had no instrument to measure heat index and simply called a city near-by to ask what the index was.

Although the coaches were absolved by the lawyer that was hired by the school board, there has been no word on exactly what caused the death of Owens that I’m aware of.

Then last week, former head coach and current assistant coach, Duffy, Sr. announced his resignation effective at the end of the season. So the plot thickened once again.

Today the Henderson Gleaner reports that Duffy, Jr. has been suspended for one week for failure to comply with a directive that was issued to all Henderson County coaches in August of 2005. Henderson superintendent Thomas Richey (that’s three “Tom’s” if you’re counting) was quoted in the ’05 memo as saying, “Coaching techniques and interpersonal conduct with student athletes which demean, harass, abuse or verbally denigrate have no place in our coaching ranks.”

Now, if Duffy, Jr. was suspended for failing to comply with that, then you can draw your own conclusions as to exactly which (if not all) of those he failed to comply with.

The story goes on to say, “Richey stressed that the suspension had nothing to do with the death of football player Ryan Owens on July 19 or any other specific incident. ‘I’m not going to address specific situations. It’s not just one incident. We are looking at the larger picture.’”

So here’s my take. This guy obviously has something going on. It’s hard to say exactly what because not everything has come to light. But we do know he lied about how he measured the heat index, and that PROBABLY had something to do with that player’s death. I would stop well short of saying it’s Duffy’s fault. He just bent the rules and used poor judgment. But it would seem a health condition that was preexisting led to Owens death, not the faulty judgment of a coach. However, Senior Duffy’s resignation is a bad sign, this suspension is a bad sign, and the fact that the suspension is from a history of incidents that occurred AFTER the superintendent felt it necessary to remind coaches not to abuse their players (which should be common sense) seems to me like I’ve been right all along. Tom Duffy, Jr. is a class A-1 jerk and maybe worse.

Go on to the link and read the comments from Henderson residents. It ain't pretty.


Piccu said...

It seems that everyone is doing all they can to not get their a** sued off for this death. I would have to think that every coach in any sport could be suspended for a week for any of the infractions named. All football coaches are going to push their players and if their players go down in the hot sun, they are going to yell at them harder to make them get up and keep going.

I am not sure why we have to play football in 100 degree wheather in the first place. At least why we have to practice for hours in 100 degree heat. As long as you have football coaches mixing with practice in 90 to 100 degree heat, we will continue to have players going to the emergency room and dying.

BRATCH said...

Just to clarify, I'm pretty sure the heat index rules aren't exactly rules so much as they are "recommendations" according to some stories I've seen about the death of this player.

However, I honestly think he likely falsified the heat index report and I'll tell you why.

Coaches are supposed to take a heat index reading every half hour. Apparently they didn't have the thermometer/psycrometer to take the reading. But yet they thought it was more convenient to not get the thermometer and make a phone call every half hour to get a reading? So I can hold a little plastic thing in my hand for 10 seconds or I can pick up a phone and place a phone call to someone 20 minutes away. That's rich.

The KHSAA put in these recommendations to protect the kids. The forms that they fill out are to basically validate that they were taking the proper measures to protect their kids. So, to me, when you don't shell out the 20 bucks for a thermometer to actually make sure you are protecting your kids, I seriously doubt that you are actually calling someone for a reading.

And those forms are to help insure that if something tragic like a player dying does happen, the schools can say they were taking the proper precautions.

I don't believe they were. I don't believe that 99% of coaches take the proper precautions, but we are likely fixing to see what happens when you can't prove you were protecting the players from the heat and one of them dies.