Morenci has a new head football coach in place for 2011 season and he’ll turn his attention to lining up support staff.
Morenci’s board of education met in a special session Wednesday to hire the district’s athletic director, Taz Wallace, as head coach. Wallace’s role as AD presented a challenge.
Normally, the AD would be part of the hiring process, said Morenci superintendent Michael Osborne, but not when he was also an applicant. As soon as Wallace applied for the job, he was completely out of the hiring process.
“The first thing the board did was to make a decision on Taz,” he said. “If we said ‘no’ to him, then we would want to have him in on the process.”
Contact was made with some other districts that have athletic directors who also coach to see how they handle the situation. Concerns were expressed about evaluating the coach and also about the perception of fairness that the AD would show toward the district’s other sports.
Those discussions led the board to choose Wallace who is seen as a well-qualified person already on the school staff.
In discussing Wallace, Osborne said a concern was raised about his limited coaching experience—three years as an assistant with the Adrian High School team—but he was highly recommended by Adrian’s staff who wishes it had a way to work him into their own coaching staff.
“I think he’s talented enough that other schools would like to use him,” Osborne said, referring to Wallace’s coaching abilities as well as his other skills. He also serves as a behavioral specialist in Morenci.
“He’s already in the district, he has connections with the students, he cares about kids and his heart is in the right place,” Osborne said. “I spoke with the board members and they’re all confident in the decision made.”
The bottom line for him, Osborne said, is that Wallace is the sort of individual he want to have for his own children’s coach.
Osborne spoke of the need to have some continuity in both the athletic director and coach roles. Wallace shares that concern and said he intends to remain with the job.
Wallace went to high school at Madison and played football with Adrian College where he was a three-time All-American linebacker. Linebacker coaching was his primary duty when he was with Adrian High School’s program.
“I’m excited about it. I hope to get a coaching staff in place in the next few weeks,” Wallace said. “An offensive coordinator will be the first person.”
Wallace said he also spoke with a football coach who serves as athletic director and that conversation gave him the confidence that he could successfully handle both jobs.
Five candidates applied for the job, Osborne said, including two from out of state.