McSurley out at Clinton-Massie for now; “It’s not like it’s a witch-hunt…”

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Clinton-Massie’s Dan McSurley has led the Falcons to an 81-15 record and eight straight playoff appearances since 2002.

What could have been head coach Dan McSurley’s best football team ever
at Clinton-Massie might not even be his to coach. The longtime and highly successful head coach was told by superintendent
Dr. Mike Sander last week that both McSurley’s head football and
wrestling positions would not be renewed and that the district would
post and receive applications for both.


What could have been head coach Dan McSurley’s best football team ever at Clinton-Massie might not even be his to coach.

The longtime and highly successful head coach was told by superintendent Dr. Mike Sander last week that both McSurley’s head football and wrestling positions would not be renewed and that the district would post and receive applications for both. Sander said the goal is to recommend a football coach at the district’s July 19 board meeting. Football two-a-days start 15 days after that.

“It’s not like it’s a witch-hunt and we’re looking to push someone out the door,” Sander said. “If he would have expressed his desire to coach both sports earlier, there wouldn’t have been an issue.”

The upheaval is a result of McSurley missing a self-imposed district deadline to inform the administration of his coaching intentions for the upcoming school year. All coaches at Clinton-Massie were given until May 18 to declare their intentions. According to Sander, every coach – head and assistant – did so except McSurley. Coaches were presented with a letter and follow-up emails reminding them of the deadline. All coaches at C-M are on one-year contracts.

“I just missed the deadline on a Statement of Intent, that was pretty much it,” McSurley said. “It’s just one of those things and it will never happen again. Hopefully I’ll be able to coach again and we can move on and put this behind us.”

Last week Sander, who just finished his first year at C-M, said he met with McSurley in what was the duo’s first face-to-face meeting since before the original deadline letters were presented and told the coach that his positions were not being renewed. At that time McSurley voiced his desire to continue to coach both sports, but Sander said it was too late.

“With the previous administration things were always informal and it was always just a given that I wanted to come back,” McSurley said. “Like it is with all new people, there are always different expectations and I know that now. It was never my intent not to coach. I’m not just some rouge guy that does what he wants. I just didn’t write my name down saying that I wanted to come back and I will from now on.”

Said Sander: “That was the first of my knowledge that he wanted to return.”

According to an article in the Wilmington News Journal, McSurley said he fully intended to meet the deadline but forgot due to some personal issues including his father-in-law’s death and the diagnosis of his own mother with Stage IV small cell lung cancer.

Sander said he can relate to McSurley’s personal issues since his father-in-law also passed away this spring and his own father has become sick in the last couple months.

“I know he had issues…we all have issues,” Sander said. “If any one can relate to what he’s going through it’s me. But you have to take care of business.”

Since becoming the head football coach at Clinton-Massie in 1996, McSurley has taken care of business on the field. After his teams went 30-31 with one playoff appearance in his first six seasons, the Falcons have gone 81-15 with eight straight playoff berths.

This year’s team with seniors Gunner Calhoun (LB), Jordan Scanlon (RB) and Michael Stenger (OL) has a chance to be the program’s best. The Falcons lost to Alter in last year’s Region 16 finals.

McSurley started the wrestling program at Clinton-Massie and has had two individual state champions: Nathan Thobaben in 2004 and Corby Running in 2009 and 2010.

Sander’s admits the timing of this whole ordeal is “not ideal” and will affect the process and who actually applies for the positions. McSurley – who is a high school physical education teacher at C-M – has already reapplied for both.

“He could be the only one that applies,” Sander said, “but with the number of phone calls I’ve received already, I doubt he will be.”

Said McSurley: “I’m sure they will get some applications from other people. Who wouldn’t want to coach these guys?”

Obviously no one is more qualified for either the football or wrestling job than McSurley, but whether or not he gets them again is in question.

Until the July 19 board meeting, Sander said assistant coaches will run the football program. McSurley says he plans to remain with the team during its summer schedule.

“Sure it’s a concern (that there’s no head coach), you’d like to have one in place,” Sander said. “I trust that the assistant coaches will do the job (in the meantime). I don’t think giving (McSurley) a month past the deadline to tell us his intentions was unfair and it’s not like I’m picking on one person here. If any coach would have missed the deadline it would have been the same thing.

“I know I’m the bad guy here, but that comes with the job.”

Said McSurley: “I have five years left before I can retire. My goal is to retire as a Clinton-Massie Falcon.”

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