Raiders coach not retained

Shelby Academy head football coach and athletic director Shannon Jones was told Friday that he would not be retained at the end of the school year. School headmaster Steve Zaslofsky said the reasons had nothing to do with football.

“This was not based on his performance as a football coach at all,” Zaslofsky said. “He and I had several meetings through the year to discus the vision of the athletic department and P.E. department. Those needs weren’t met.”

Jones, who also coached track and field, powerlifting and softball this season, said he was not expecting the dismissal. He said he thought the Friday afternoon meeting with the head master would secure his place for another year.

“Of course, I asked for why this decision was made and he began to look for a piece of paper that had a list of reasons why. He couldn’t find it and began to read off a blank sheet of paper and made up some pretty lame reasons,” said Jones.

Those reasons, according to Jones, were that P.E. teachers weren’t teaching the way they should; that when rumors of the school closing got out, Jones did not go around the neighborhood to disband rumors; that after players quit the football team Jones did not speak with them; and that he did not notify the office about using the Pelham High School track for an event.

Jones said all of those reasons were false. He said he did not know the athletic director was in charge of the P.E. program, and that he felt the decision was personal. Zaslofsky said the AD is in charge of supervising the P.E. teachers and said that rumors of the school closing played no factor in the decision.

“These were supervision issues regarding things that jeopardize the safety of students and the school,” Zaslofsky said.

Zaslofsky said he would not disclose specifics because of Jones’ confidentiality rights.

Board member Ken Flowers said the decision was one that helps the school’s overall plan.

“We are really working very hard to improve the image of Shelby Academy in the community and make it the institution it can be, and all the decisions made are part of that overall plan,” Flowers said.

On the football field, Jones was 12-11 in two seasons, taking the Raiders to the semifinals both years.

“I’m disappointed at the direction that Shelby Academy is headed. I loved the place. I loved coaching these kids and would really enjoy the opportunity to keep coaching,” Jones said. “I’m really disappointed with the direction Mr. Z and the board are taking. It’s almost like they’re trying to do away with football, period. Athletics has been their calling card.”

Zaslofsky said the school will begin the search for a new football coach from the outside and will either appoint a new athletic director from its staff or hire someone from the outside.

Jones said he may get out of coaching for a while and just teach.

“Shelby Academy has turned me against the profession,” Jones said. “It would have to be a good situation for me to move on (in coaching).”