Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education accepts football coach's resignation

by ellin walsh | REPORTER and Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

The Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education voted unanimously Feb. 11 to accept the resignation of Mike Miller from his duties as head football coach and football conditioning supervisor, effective Aug. 29.

Miller remains a unit principal at Falls High, a position he accepted last September, replacing Allison Bogdan. At the time it was announced Miller would remain the head football coach for the 2012 season, which ended at the end of October.

The school board agenda lists the fact that Miller "is now an administrator" as the reason for his resignation from his coaching duties. Miller did not return a phone call or email seeking comment by press time, and he did not attend the Feb. 11 Board meeting. In a Jan. 29 resignation letter, Miller writes, "I am resigning my position as head football coach effective immediately due to my position as an administrator in the Cuyahoga Falls City School District."

Athletic Director Thomas DiFrancesco said the district hopes to have Miller's replacement on board "by the end of April."

"… When we interviewed and ultimately hired Mr. Miller as an administrator in the district," Superintendent Dr. Todd M. Nichols said Feb. 12, "We made it clear that there would likely be a time when he would have to give up his coaching duties. At that time, we did not know that it would be now."

A 1999 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School, Miller took over the football program from Greg Lazzari in 2008.

During Miller's five years as head coach, Falls finished with a record of 10-40, including 3-7 in the 2012 season.

The superintendent said admiration for and appreciation of Miller's efforts with the football program were catalysts in his being considered as an administrator.

At the same time, Nichols noted demands upon administrators at Falls High have been increasing. The school district has reduced the number of unit principals from three to two at Falls High, he said, while the state has simultaneously increased academic rigor for high school students, posing additional challenges for those charged with helping them excel.

"…The more we found that the changes in the educational landscape … would require a tremendous amount of time and energy throughout the year," Nichols continued, "the more unrealistic it became to have an administrator be a head football coach."

"The decision is not easy for anyone," according to the superintendent.

DiFrancesco said the coaching job was set to be posted Feb. 14 internally and that "we will go external" on the search.

"As of right now, we don't have anyone in mind," DiFrancesco said. "We've had a couple inquiries, but that's it."

Falls has not had a winning season in football since going 6-4 in 2002.

"Coach Miller set high standards for the football program," DeFrancesco said, "and we would like to find a football coach that will maintain these high standards and continue to build on this foundation."

"We lost an outstanding, dedicated coach but gained a great young administrator with a bright future ahead of him in the Cuyahoga Falls School District," the athletic director stated.

Miller supporters speak

Before the Board vote Feb. 11, two Falls High graduates and ex-athletes asked the body to reconsider accepting Miller's resignation.

"I know that the win/loss record at Falls hasn't been top-shelf the last few years," Jon Calvin of Tallmadge, a 1969 graduate of Falls High, said, "but I do have a sibling that's in the school system and participating in the athletic program and I think that Coach Miller is an excellent individual as a leader for that program."

Randy Caldwell of Stow, also a 1969 graduate of Falls High, described himself as "a supporter of Coach Miller." As an executive search consultant, a member of the Athletic Development Council at Kent State University and one of the founders of the Black Tiger Alumni Gridiron Club, Caldwell said, "I think that I'm professionally qualified to measure … a coach and the teachings that they portray to our young athletes. My reason for coming here would be to ask the Board to reconsider his resignation."

"If I were to list, in my mind, the qualities and characteristics of the kind of person who we'd want to coach here, it would be Mike Miller in a sound bite," Board member Dale Petty told his colleagues. However, Petty said the School Board was following a process, which calls for supplemental contracts to be non-renewed and then revisited in May. "I would encourage Mike to reapply for this position if he feels he can give his usual 110 percent to his administrative job and his coaching responsibilities," Petty said.

The Board's next regularly scheduled meeting is Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Harold E. Wilson Administrative Center Board meeting room.

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9419

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