Knorr chooses to back coach in dismissal of football players

By Mike McClure

Last week Dr. Russell Knorr, superintendent of the Seaford School District, decided to uphold the decision of Seaford head football coach Shawn Larrimore to kick 14 players off the team. Knorr's decision came a day after the district's school board meeting (on Monday, Oct. 28) in which parents were not allowed to address the board about the situation because Knorr had not made a decision. "I was trying to move this process along as quickly a possible," said Knorr. "When I investigated the situation, I talked to a number of people involved." Knorr said he discussed the incident with Larrimore and one of his assistants as well as Michael Smith, principal of Seaford High; and three current players and two of the former players who Knorr said were selected at random by Smith. The incident in question occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 23 when 13 players confronted the coach before practice to address the dismissal of senior John Wheatley from the football team (earlier that day in the school hallways). Larrimore would not talk to the players about the situation (and their list of demands) and gave them an ultimatum: to get dressed for practice or turn in their uniforms. The players walked away and were kicked off the team. On Wednesday, Oct. 30, Knorr finalized his decision by sending a letter to the parents who asked to speak at the board meeting. In a phone interview last Friday, Knorr said the players (still on the team) that he talked to said the coach made the correct decision. Knorr also cited two elements in the code of conduct which the players signed as a contract at the beginning of the season as his reason for supporting the coach's decision. First, if there is an issue, a player should approach the coach one on one in private. "They did it en mass in the parking lot," Knorr said. Second, "players should not do something that is detrimental to team moral". "They confronted the coach in the parking lot with a list of demands, it would seem to me that that is detrimental to the team," said Knorr. "With two days left before a game he (the coach) had an obligation to the whole team," Knorr added. "He just did not want to talk at that time. The players had a decision to make. In fact they removed themselves from the team by not listening to their coach (when he told them to get dressed for practice)." Knorr did not address whether Larrimore made the right decision when he confronted Wheatley in the school hallway (in front of other students), which triggered the protest by the 13 other players. The players and their parents have the option of appealing Knorr's decision to the board, but there are only two games left in the season. Last week, the Bluejays lost to Dover, 53-0, on senior night. Larrimore has said that the players who are underclassmen will have an opportunity to play next year, but a majority of the players involved are seniors.

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