Kankakee High School has let go of its girls track coach, Benny Phillips, who has repeatedly taken his team to the state meet over the years.
On Wednesday, the district informed Phillips that he would no longer continue as coach, even though he signed a contract for another year a few months ago.
“We wanted to go in a different direction,” Ronnie Wilcox, the school’s athletic director, said in an interview.
Before coming to Kankakee, Phillips served as an assistant coach at both Hillcrest High School and Providence Catholic High School. He then started his tenure at Kankakee during the 2009-10 school year.
The Kays’ girls track and field program has sent at least one representative to the IHSA State Track and Field Meet in each of the last nine years.
Phillips, who has been coaching in some capacity for 22 years, resigned as the freshman-sophomore football coach, but is staying as a physical education teacher at the school, Wilcox said.
“He is still a valued member of the teaching community,” Wilcox said. “He is a good teacher.”
Phillips said his dismissal had something to do with the school’s new policy dealing with strength and conditioning for athletes.
When the district hired strength and conditioning coach Dave Emery after the school year ended, head coaches of individual sports were encouraged to set something up with their athletes and Emery. According to IHSA rules, schools cannot make athletes’ participation during the summer mandatory.
“My biggest thing is IHSA rules,” Phillips said. “I have to follow those rules and I’m going to stick with that.”
Wilcox said he could not discuss the reasons behind Phillips’ departure because it was a personnel matter.