Heidelberg football coach sacked after controversial call
Stars and Stripes November 9, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany — Just days after leading his team to the DODDS-Europe Division I football crown, Heidelberg’s football coach announced Tuesday that school leadership has decided to remove him from the position he’s occupied for 15 years.
“I was notified Monday by my principal that HHS will be moving in a new direction and I will not be coaching anymore,” Brad Shahan wrote in an e-mail to members of the sports community in Europe.
Reached at home Tuesday, Shahan said he also will no longer be serving as the school’s varsity basketball coach, a position he held since 1990. Shahan declined to comment further on the end of his coaching career, but did say he will remain on board as a teacher.
Heidelberg Principal KJ Brewer did not respond to a phone call or e-mail seeking comment. Athletic Director Karen Seadore would not comment beyond saying it was a “school leadership decision.”
The coaching shake-up comes after weeks of controversy over Shahan’s decision not to field his football team during the closing seconds of an Oct. 9 contest against Wiesbaden. The failure to put his team on the field resulted in an imposed forfeiture.
However, the referee’s ruling sparked an uproar of protest among Heidelberg parents, who led the push to get the team’s 54-19 victory reinstated. Last week, Nancy Bresell, director of Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe, overturned the forfeiture. High school sports rules mandate that forfeitures be imposed before the end of a game. Since the referee’s decision was more than a week later, it was in violation of the rule book, Bresell stated in her memorandum.
Though Heidelberg’s victory was reinstated, Shahan was not vindicated of the charge of unsportsmanlike conduct that prompted the original complaint.
“The basis of the protest, that the Heidelberg coach did not direct the players to return to the field after being so directed by the referee and that this lack of action by the coach constituted unsportsmanlike behavior, was substantiated,” Bresell wrote.
On Saturday, Shahan led his Lions to a dramatic double-overtime win in a rematch against Wiesbaden. It was the fifth time Shahan led Heidelberg to a football championship. He was equally successful as a basketball coach, leading Heidelberg to numerous championships, including five consecutive Division I crowns from 2000 and 2004.
“We’re all really disappointed. We feel like he’s done an excellent job this year,” said Jeanne McBride, a Heidelberg parent who was part of a group that pushed to have the forfeit decision overturned.
McBride said Shahan took unnecessary criticism for his conduct at the end of the game. Shahan’s supporters argue that instead of defying a referee’s request to return players to the field, there was a feeling among the Heidelberg team that time had already expired in the game.
“We didn’t feel like he was malicious in any way to the referee,” McBride said. “We’re all saddened by this decision.”
Though popular with many players and parents, Shahan’s career wasn’t without controversy. In 2007, Shahan was disciplined for his decision a year earlier to require football players to do 200 push-ups in increments of 20 after leaving trash on the field after practice.
In his e-mail to the DODDS-Europe sports community, Shahan wrote: “I would like to take a minute and thank you for all the camaraderie over the years. It was great working with you at camp and against you on the sidelines. I will remember all the laughs and good times we shared.”