Parents gather to support Lone Peak's McGeary

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27 2013 11:10 p.m. MST

Lone Peak's Chase Hansen tries to hold down Coach Tony McGeary as the team dumps water on him as they beat Fremont in the 5A State Championship game in Salt Lake City Friday, Nov. 18, 2011.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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HIGHLAND — About three dozen people gathered Wednesday night to discuss how they might persuade the Alpine School District to reconsider its decision not to renew the coaching contract of head football coach Tony McGeary.

McGeary resigned his coaching position on Monday morning after principal Chip Koop told him last week that he would not renew his coaching contract next year.

"Coaching is an honor and a privilege and a thankless job," McGeary wrote in a statement he sent to the Deseret News Wednesday. "It has been my life's work and I love the boys and feel like Lone Peak football is about more than winning. … My decision to resign is because I did not want to cause any strain or hurt to the Lone Peak football program. I wanted to make sure our team, students and this program continues to be successful and to assure that Lone Peak students and team are not harmed."

Parents who gathered at the home of Howard Hannemann said they were frustrated that a few parents could persuade the school that McGeary was in some way unethical or dishonest.

"I think it's sick and disgusting that you can defame somebody's honor and character just because your son didn't get to play in a football game," said Stefanie Richards, who has two sons who play football at Lone Peak. "The lessons in football aren't always about putting your kid on the field. So what if your son has to sit on the bench, if you team him life lessons with a coach like Tony."

In December, about 20 parents filed a complaint with the district that made a number of allegations against McGeary, which the district investigated before deciding not to renew his contract.

While district officials cannot comment on the situation because it is a personnel matter, there were two main problems raised by the parents who complained in December.

The Under Armour contract

Coach McGeary signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Under Armour in February 2012. That deal offered $6,000 rebates to the program and 40 percent off on shoes and apparel. In exchange, student athletes were asked to purchase Under Armour clothing and gear from Universal Athletics.

McGeary was later told by district officials that the district's attorney or business administrator had to approve any kind of sponsorship deal, something he told representatives of Universal Athletics about the same time he signed the contract.

In that email exchange obtained through GRAMA, McGeary informed Universal Athletic representatives that the district would not allow him to enter into the agreement.

"I guess our attorney said I need to get approval from my administration to sign a contract," he wrote on Feb. 9, 2012. "So I may need you to do a presentation with him also? Sorry, things are changing with us running the funds through school now? Tony."

The representative answered, "Tony, If you want … we can tear up the signed agreement, and just do a handshake agreement if that's easier for you. … Otherwise I'm happy to meet with whoever."

McGeary then said, "Okay, that would be easier and less hassle."

And the response was, "OK … It's torn up … We will just use it as reference …."

Alpine School District public relations manager Rhonda Bromley said the district only recognizes one contract since it examined the issue last year, and that's for Lone Peak's basketball program.

"If there is a contract, someone thinks they have, it is not recognized by the Alpine School District," Bromley said. "The expectation of every employee in the district would be to follow the proper procedure."

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