BREAKING: Vinton County High School girls basketball coach suspended two games
By Paul McManis
Commoner Journal staff writer
McARTHUR — The new Vinton County High School varsity girls basketball coach will sit out the first two games of the Vikings’ season, according to school officials.
First-year coach Mark Dixon was suspended by the school for two games after violating the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s no-contact period, High School Principal Kevin Waddell said.
According to OHSAA regulations, a no-contact period is enforced from four weeks before Labor Day and ending on Labor Day. During this period, coaches cannot have any athletic-related contact with team members of the sport they coach.
School officials learned that members of Dixon’s varsity basketball team were helping younger children during a basketball camp Dixon was conducting during that period.
Although OHSAA did not place the suspension on Dixon, it agreed with the school for self-reporting the incident and taking action to correct the infraction.
OHSAA Assistant Commissioner Jerry Snodgrass said the schools made the appropriate decision to suspend Dixon during the first two games of the season. In a letter to Waddell, Snodgrass wrote that the school’s stance proves it is committed to making strong and appropriate decisions when they are needed.
“I want to commend you for the seriousness to which you take ‘following the rules,’” he wrote. “That became evident to me in my first conversations with you and it is reassuring to know that as school leaders, you continue to know and emphasize that there are no shortcuts to success.”
Waddell said as soon as he was made aware of Dixon’s violations, he immediately put a stop to it and decided to self-report the incident to keep any members of the faculty from facing penalties for the infraction.
Waddell said even though the violation could have been easily corrected, he felt it was appropriate to self-report to ensure any dues were paid for the violations.
“I don’t know how it first came to me, but I got wind that it was going on and that some of the girls were involved, so I just put a stop to it,” Waddell said. “I thought it was better to self-report ourselves.”
School Superintendent John Simmons said such incidents of coaches violating regulations are happening in various places, and regardless of what stances other places take, any violation of policy must be punished.
“This is not new and it’s a big thing, but it is our position to abide by the law and do what is right,” Simmons said.
School Activity Administrator Teresa Disbennet did not have any comment. Dixon could not be reached for comment.
Waddell said he doesn’t believe the suspension will hurt the girls’ basketball season, and he said he expects to see the girls do very well after bringing back most of last year’s starters.
Dixon, a Vinton County High School alumnus, was hired as head coach in June to take over the reigns from last year’s coach, N.J. Kight, whose supplemental contract was non-renewed earlier this year.
The initial vote on Dixon was scheduled to take place early in June, but School Board President Charlotte McManus tabled the issue after an executive session. Vice President Terri Prater was not at that meeting. At the next meeting, the board split the vote 3-2 in favor of Dixon, with McManus, Prater and Clint Walker voting yes and Jeff Thacker and Tom McManis voting no.
According to his resume, Dixon has been involved with coaching basketball since 1995, achieving winning records most of those years. Most recently, he was the Vinton County Junior High girls basketball coach for four seasons: 1997-98 (14-3), 1998-99 (13-3), 2004-05 (8-7) and 2005-06 (15-0).
From 1995 to 2006, Dixon coached the Vinton County basketball league for grades third to sixth, where he only lost one game from 1999 to 2008. From 2002-2006, he also coached in the Hocking Valley League, winning the league each year, according to his resume.
Dixon’s resume lists his accomplishments as a basketball coach, including winning the Sis Norris Classic and the Ohio Youth Basketball School Team State Championships, and founding the Hamden Hoopsters, which gives third- through sixth-graders the opportunity to play on a traveling basketball team.