Farneth out: Swansboro softball coach fired
Jul 19, 2012 (The Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Drew Farneth is out as Swansboro's softball coach.
Farneth has been fired over an apparent dispute with the principal that revolved around her decision to nix the retiring of two-time player of the year Jaimee Radel's number and an email Farneth sent to a number of people about the situation.
Farneth, who led Swansboro the NCHSAA 2-A finals in 2011 and within one win of a return trip this past season, issued a statement Wednesday concerning his dismissal.
"There was a disagreement between my administration and me concerning the retiring of a senior player's jersey and number," Farneth said in a 115-word statement to The Daily News. "I sent an email to several coaching colleagues and people close to the program concerning my frustration with the situation.
"The email was intended to inform some of the recipients that the player's jersey would not be retired at the spring athletic banquet as I had originally intended. The email also stated my administration's reasons against retiring the jersey and my arguments in support of retiring the jersey.
"The email contained no slander or profanity. I was released from my coaching position in response to having sent the aforementioned email to those friends and colleagues."
Swansboro principal Christine Andre declined to comment on the issue and whether the dismissal concerned a dispute over the retiring of Radel's number.
"It's a personnel matter. It's not something that I can elaborate on," she said.
As to whether there is a possibility that Farneth could be reinstated in the future, Andre said: "At this point I can't say that there would be. I can't predict the future, but at this point he's just been relieved of the coaching duty (but will) remain on staff as an English teacher."
Andre added that as principal she has "to do what's in the best interest" of athletes, school and staff.
Farneth was named coach of the year by The Daily News in four of his nine seasons with the Pirates, including the past two seasons. He said he didn't want to say much more than what was contained in his statement.
"But you can just add that I'm disappointed by the circumstances and the way things ended up transpiring," he said.
Farneth's dismissal from coaching occurred last month, according to Farneth.
Originally, Farneth planned to retire Radel's number and jersey at the school's spring sports banquet June 4. Radel finished her career with 1,316 strikeouts, which ranked fourth in state history, according to the NCHSAA. Moreover, Farneth said Radel was the all-time strikeout leader among 2-A pitchers in Eastern North Carolina.
On June 2, Farneth sent an email to a number of people, including The Daily News, which he had invited to the sports banquet to write about Radel's number being retired, saying Andre "put the kibosh" on his plans.
In the email Farneth said Andre's reasons included not wanting to have to retire every number of players who sign with colleges and that every parent would want their child's number retired. Farneth also said Andre was worried about the cost of having to replace jerseys given the budget constraints the county school system was operating under.
Farneth answered by saying he'd bought all the jerseys for this year's team himself, including the numbering and lettering.
Farneth sent another email one day later on the morning of June 3 saying he let his "emotions get the best of me" and asked that neither email be used.
Andre declined comment on the situation surrounding Farneth's plans for Radel.
Andre did say the school is searching for not only a new head softball coach but an assistant as well. Assistant Matt Grulke left last month to go to Croatan High School, where he is the head coach for cross country and junior varsity basketball for both boys and girls.
Along with being Farneth's assistant, Grulke was Swansboro's head girls' basketball coach and head junior varsity football coach.
Andre said she hasn't filled either position yet.
"We're always looking for someone to continue to grow the program," she said, adding she, like most principals in Onslow County, would prefer all her head coaches also be teachers at the high school "so that the athletes have someone they can go to here at the school."
"During the day if something comes up, the student has someone to go to because our coaches are not only good for on the field but off the field," Andre said. "When something comes up in a student's life they trust their coaches. So you want them to be able to go to them."
Classes resume in about a month. Andre would like to have someone on board for those positions as soon as she can.
"We've hired some new people that have coaching interests. However, you don't want to put someone new into a position until we know them and know that they're comfortable teaching and know our kids and that kind of thing."
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