JUNEAU — Two Dodgeland head coaches were relieved of their duties Monday night at the regular, monthly meeting of the Dodgeland School Board.
After hearing comments from the public and after better than an hour of closed-session deliberation, the board voted not to renew the coaching contract of boys’ varsity basketball coach Bill Otte and to accept the resignation of varsity football coach Ron Miller.
Otte, who just finished his 13th season as Trojans’ head coach and Miller, who has coached varsity football at Dodgeland for more than 20 years, will remain at their posts as teachers in the district, according to school board president Jeff Caine.
Both men were afforded opportunities to resign their coaching posts after a personnel committee meeting Feb. 11, according to Dodgeland district administrator Annette Thompson, who confirmed the dismissals were administrative requests for board action.
Miller, who also resigned his long-running position as junior-varsity boys’ basketball coach, submitted his resignation in a letter dated March 7, according to the board’s March 25 agenda.
Miller was not present at the board meeting Monday night and his resignations were accepted by unanimous board vote.
Otte, along with his wife Pam and a number of supporters, was present Monday when the board voted 7 to 2 not to renew his contract. Board members Shawna Rennhack and Troy Schliesman cast the dissenting votes.
Otte had no comment shortly after the board’s vote.
Thompson said all three jobs would be posted, advertised and would be open to whomever wants to apply.
“We’ll welcome staff applications and will be filling the position with the best-qualified candidate,” she said.
When asked why the coaches were asked to resign and why Otte’s contract was not renewed, Thompson answered, “that is a personnel matter I’m not at liberty to discuss.”
After hearing citizen comments and before entering closed session, Caine said, “There was a meeting where (Otte and Miller) were called in and given the opportunity to resign.”
That meeting took place about 10 days ago, Caine said. He said the administrative requests wanted the (football and basketball) programs to go in a different direction.
Dodgeland’s football and basketball programs have struggled in recent years. When asked whether “a different direction,” meant winning more games with someone else coaching, Caine replied, “not necessarily.
“We want to become a school of excellence,” he said. “Winning more? Obviously, one would hope in an excellent program, a prerequisite would be a larger percentage of wins. Is it a main criterion? No. A factor? Yes.”
Speaking on Otte’s behalf, former Dodgeland teacher Kent Saugstad commended Otte’s efforts and suggested improvements in Dodgeland’s football and basketball programs must begin long before high school.
“If we want to be more competitive, we should encourage kids and parents to get involved early,” he said.
Dodgeland teacher Kendra Hayden and her husband Tim, told the board they were impressed with Otte’s committment to the basketball program and said, “in the next four years, we’ll need Bill.”
Thompson said she hoped new coaches would be hired before the current semester is concluded.