Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

August 27, 1997
Section: METRO
Edition: 1 STAR
Page: A1

Jim Quinn, Beacon Journal staff writer

The coach in the middle of the athletic controversies that divided the Coventry school district wants his job back.

Mo Tipton, who resigned as Coventry's football coach after scandals rocked the district in March, has told school officials that he never resigned as a teacher. Tipton says he will drop his effort to return to the district if he receives a settlement including $16,000 plus possession of a golf cart.


The possibility of Tipton's return came as a surprise to Coventry officials.

"My position is that Mo Tipton resigned, and that he has been adequately compensated by Coventry," board President Richard Kutuchief said. "We don't have a position available for him."

Tipton declined to comment. "This is not a conversation I wish to have," he said. "It's none of your business."

Jeff Ferguson, former assistant principal and head football coach at Tallmadge, was hired by Superintendent Gerald Wargo, who hoped Ferguson could restore the athletic department's reputation.

Then, on Aug. 7, Wargo left after the board agreed to a buyout totaling $113,863.

The scandals leading to Wargo's and Tipton's departure include what locals call "BB-Gate," in which one of Tipton's assistant football coaches was fired after he admitted lying to police about shooting a student athlete in the buttocks with a BB gun.

The district also received widespread publicity over an incident at last year's Manchester-Coventry football game. A Coventry player made an obscene gesture to Manchester fans.

In addition, the district was torn over photographs and videotapes showing the presence of beer at a party attended by Coventry wrestlers and their coach after the state wrestling tournament.

Tipton, who took over the Coventry football program in 1994, resigned March 13 along with three of his assistant coaches. The men said they were resigning because of "a small, disgruntled and racist faction within the community who wish to control the coaching staff's decisions." They also criticized the board majority as "weak, inefficient, unprofessional and unwilling or unable to deal with a controlling minority group."

District officials said they heard from Tipton after the school board approved Wargo's buyout. Tipton allegedly argued that he resigned from his athletic duties, not from his teaching job, but said he would resign completely if he received $16,000 plus the golf cart donated to the district by owners of the Turkeyfoot Golf Course. Tipton used the cart to travel around Coventry's athletic fields during football practices.

"I am surprised to hear that he is interested in returning to Coventry, after the things he has said," Kutuchief said. "I got the impression he was not satisfied working with us and wanted to leave."

Tipton never taught classes at Coventry. When he was hired, it was as a student-relations coordinator; the position paid $45,251, including the supplemental coaching salary. He rose to principal at the north campus, which gave him a total salary of $50,208. His final position was athletic director, which gave him a salary of about $52,000.

The Tipton development comes when Coventry officials are trying to repair the damage to the district's reputation. Interim Superintendent David Redd, the former Erwine Middle School principal, is running the district as the board searches for a permanent superintendent. The search is expected to take 60 to 90 days.

At the same time, officials are trying to fill the remaining vacancies in the coaching staff, including wrestling and girls basketball.

Four candidates are under consideration for the wrestling job. Some of the candidates have strong support among factions of parents with children in the program, and officials suspect some families will withdraw from the program if the coach they favor isn't appointed. One divisive issue is whether tobacco and alcohol use by wrestlers was discouraged strongly enough in the past.


Copyright (c) 1997 Akron Beacon Journal