AP NEWS

Coaching Hire Stirs Debate At Dallas

May 14, 2019

DALLAS TWP. — Supporters and detractors voiced strong opinions on a motion to retain Dallas High School basketball head coach Mark Belenski before the school board voted 6-3 Monday to keep him.

Many who spoke and attended the meeting played basketball for the coach. Belenski was suspended this past season for several games for undisclosed reasons.

“There’s been a lot of mention of racist comments and things like that. In this town, we’re under a microscope. It’s a small town, and people like to circulate these issues,” said Jay Bittner, who played basketball before graduating last year.

Bittner told a story about how Belenski gave an African American man a pizza and a hug after a game in Philadelphia and another story about buying a homeless African American man something to eat at fast food restaurant.

“So if you could find racism in that, I would love to hear from that,” Bittner said.

Keith Evanoski, a parent from Dallas, said he objects to “the culture and environment” under Belenski.

“It creates a culture and environment where players are afraid to speak up when they see an injustice, or simply don’t agree with the coach. The boys basketball team is an extra curricular activity at a public school, not a top secret government agency,” Evanoski said.

Board members did not address the comments or discuss their positions on whether to retain the coach during the meeting. Belenski could not be reached for comment.

The following board members voted to keep Belenski as head coach: Sherri Newell, Larry Schuler, Catherine Wega, Ed Dudick, Gary Youngblood and Patrick Musto. The following voted against: Susan Allen, Kristin Pitarra and Christine Swailes.

Contact the writer:

mbuffer@citizensvoi­ce.com

570-821-2073, @cvmikebuffer