OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego School Board met Tuesday to introduce the new athletic director Mike Conners and his vision for Oswego’s sports.
However, discussion during the nearly 90-minute meeting quickly changed course, debating whether the district needs a new position to assist its student-athletes.
Board President John Dunsmoor described the position as an “athletic transition coordinator.”
The person would help OHS student-athletes as they moved from high school to the collegiate level, he explained.
And, the coordinator would also be responsible for assisting participants in the community’s youth sports programs who want to continue on in the district’s modified, JV and varsity sports programs.
The board took no action on the proposed position Tuesday night. According to Dunsmoor, it is likely to appear on the agenda for the board’s August meeting.
“This isn’t an assistant athletic director position. If (the board) approves it, then we move forward,” he said following the meeting. “If they don’t then that’s it.”
“There has been some discussion regarding an athletic transition coordinator, Superintendent Bill Crist agreed. “A person who would work with our youth sports and with our school district and blend, if you will, having srudents from our youth sports … to be blended into our modified and ultimately into our freshmen, JV and varsity sports.”
The position would also help prepare high school student-athletes for the rigors of college life, he added.
Funding for the approximately $40,000 position would, in part, come from the savings the distrist realized from how it handled filling the athletic director (savings of $7,000) and dean of students position (a savings of $8,000).
Conners isn’t enrolling in the school district’s health insurance policy, which results in an additional savings of around $16,000, Dunsmoor added.
Still, not all board members were in favor of the position.
“We don’t need to hire another person,” said board member Tom DeCastro.
He said the position would be redundant; the varsity coaches are members of all the youth sports boards, he said, adding that the guidance counselors already prepare the students for college.
If (the counselors) aren’t doing their jobs, the high school principal “should get on their butts,” he said. “Myself, I cannot support this (position).”
DeCastro went on to claim that, during executive sessions, this position has been discussed, including a probable candidate and the position would focus on the football program while ignoring all the others.
The board president and Superintendent Crist obstinately denied the claims.
“I would never let that happen,” Dunsmoor said of the position focusing solely on football. “This is not just about football. It’s about our athletic department.”
All sports programs within the district would receive equal attention, Crist added.
The person DeCastro alluded to would be a good fit for the position, Dunsmoor said.
However, he quickly added, that person hasn’t even submitted an application.
“If we approve creating this new position, first you’ve got to post the job, you’ve got to take applicants and then you’ve got to conduct interviews,” Dunsmoor said.
Education should be the district’s focus, DeCastro stressed, adding that “sports is extra-curricular.”
Board member Bill Myer said he would like to know how many OHS student-athletes have gone to college on a sports scholarship only to have “not made the grade; basically either dropped out or failed out. And make a comparisson based on that. The most important thing is to prepare a child for a career.”