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Coach faces opposition for his style

November 19, 2012
Morning Journal News

COLUMBIANA - A six-year head baseball coach was brought back to the city school district for a seventh straight year, but not without some opposition.

A group of parents approached the board of education recently to air their concerns about Scott Knox's coaching style, which the superintendent and one board member described as "black and white."

Over his 15-year high school coaching career Knox has led two teams to the state final four in Columbus-Boardman in 2001 and Columbiana in 2010.

Prior to that, the Clippers hadn't made it to the State Tournament since 1981 and the win marked Knox's 203rd career victory.

A Columbiana graduate who later played baseball at the University of Kentucky, Knox currently teaches physical education at Boardman High School.

While the board heard complaints from parents about Knox, they also heard from those in support of keeping him on as coach.

It is the first time a complaint has ever been aired about the coach, Superintendent Don Mook and board members Randy Guy and Mark Hutson said.

"My four years here I have not heard any negative comments about the baseball program or Mr. Knox," Mook said.

Guy said it "was a little bit odd" that only recently complaints are beginning to surface, and, like Mook and Hutson, believed it only fair to give Knox a chance to address those concerns in the future.

"I certainly would like the chance, if someone didn't like the way I was handling something, to give me another chance," Guy said.

As far as the complaints go, he believes parents weren't in favor of keeping Knox because of his "straight forward" coaching style.

"There's not a gray area. It's black and white. A lot of people don't deal well with that. He'll tell you what he thinks. A lot of people like it sugar coated ... He's just laying it on the line, telling the players 'You have to work hard,'" he said.

He added that Knox is also "extremely competitive" and will select an underclassman to play over an upperclassman if he feels the underclassman is playing better.

"I know he wants to bring this program to the point where it's the top program in the area in baseball. He certainly isn't doing it for money," he said.

Mook said the coach makes roughly $3,000 a year on each of the one-year contracts he has been awarded, and that compared to other schools-and even other coaches in the district-that salary is on the lower scale.

The highest salary for a coach in the district in baseball, football and basketball is roughly $6,200, he said.

He also said the complaints were likely a result of frustration over a "less than successful season."

Knox met with Mook, the board and other school administration, including the athletic director, before he was hired for another year. The only board member opposed to the hiring was Tony Roncone.

Mook had made the recommendation to hire Knox again and Hutson said "we felt there was a need to follow the chain of command."

He and Mook both said Knox's strength as a coach is his knowledge of the game.

Knox said he is thankful to the board for allowing him to stay and that he is looking forward to the upcoming season.

"It's a privilege and honor to be able to coach where I graduated from," he said.

Knox was approached to coach in Columbiana while he was working as a coach in Boardman, and it was his history in the area that drew him back, he said.

One of his goals as coach is to create an opportunity for student athletes to play to go on to the collegiate and professional level.

During his 15-year career more than 100 of the students he has coached-including a handful from Columbiana-have gone on to play at those levels, he said.

He doesn't anticipate any drastic changes in his coaching style.

"I believe in accountability. I think our programs have been very successful," he said.

He credited his coaching staff, Jerry Ensley, Aaron Walker, Gary Kohler and Brian Dickens, for the success as well.



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