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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
Earl White says Belmont assistants would take over if he sits out in a strike.
Belmont High School head football coach Earl White and his counterpart at Meadowdale, Len Hampton Jr., are expected to honor a strike and cease coaching if Dayton Public Schools and its teachers union can't agree on a new contract.
They are the only two of five Dayton City League head football coaches who are represented by the union. The sixth DPS high school — Stivers — does not have a football program.
The two sides are in ongoing negotiations that likely will extend into tonight. The union represents all full-time DPS teachers and employees, but not administration. It has set a 12:01 a.m. Friday strike date if a new contract has not been approved.
"I wouldn't be able to coach during a strike," White said Wednesday. "I have assistant coaches who would take over for me. I'm sure they'd do a fine job."
White said if the union does strike, he would immediately cease coaching. He has multiple positions at Belmont: athletic director, physical education teacher and football coach.
Like all football programs throughout the state, Belmont is in preseason practice. Belmont's season opener is Thursday, Aug. 24 against City League rival Dunbar at Welcome Stadium.
Hampton, a full-time teacher at Meadowdale, is in his first season as the Lions' head coach. He succeeds John Wortham, who was not retained.
Dunbar coach Darran Powell is a paraprofessional at the school. Neither Ponitz coach Jim Place nor Thurgood Marshall coach Brian Carter are employed by DPS other than as coaches.
Other fall City League coaches who are teachers also would be expected to honor a strike. In addition to football, fall sports include boys and girls golf, soccer and cross country; girls volleyball; and girls tennis.
City League assistant coaches who are full-time DPS employees also are expected to honor a strike. White said that would include two other Belmont football coaches. Also on the Bison coaching staff is longtime area coach Rick Robertson. He previously was the head coach at Springfield North, Springfield, Fairmont and Oakwood and is a retired teacher.
White didn't view his possible exit from the staff as a distraction to the team.
"Absolutely not," he said. "We haven't addressed it yet. We'll bring it up if it comes up."
Negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing since last January. A three-year contract traditionally is agreed upon, although that has been affected by when a new contract is signed. The most recent contract ended June 30.
The possibility of a strike that would affect City League coaches is the latest in a series of unprecedented events that have hit DPS athletic programs since last football season.
Currently, all DPS sports teams - girls and boys, high school and middle school - are on a three-year probation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. That was the result of a "serious lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control," the OHSAA said following a lengthy investigation into accusations that Dunbar was encouraged to "throw" a Week 10 football game to Belmont last season.
DPS also was fined $10,000. One year of the probation will be dropped and $2,500 refunded if no similar incidents occur.
Contact this reporter at 937-225-2381.
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