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Home » Boys' Basketball News

Downey Out After Two Months as Whitefish Basketball Coach

July 7, 2014
Northwest Montana A Conference



 

Downey Out After Two Months as Whitefish Basketball Coach

Former head coach, high school administration at odds over abrupt departure

Making his second surprise departure in two months, Josh Downey submitted his letter of resignation to Whitefish High School last week.

Tensions are high following the abrupt departure, and the former head basketball coach is claiming administrators promised him employment within the high school district but then failed to follow through.

Whitefish Activities Director Aric Harris denied Downey’s claim and cited the basketball contract Downey signed in May that states only the coaching position was guaranteed.

“The district looked tirelessly to see if there was something we had for him that could fill some needs that we have. We just didn’t have it in the budget and we didn’t have the need at the moment,” Harris said. “It’s frustrating that he would make that claim.”

Downey, who stepped down as Bigfork’s activities director and head boys basketball coach in May to accept the vacant coaching job in Whitefish, said he was told employment opportunities would exist for him once he arrived, but as soon as he signed the contract those potential positions disappeared.

“I absolutely flat out got screwed over in this whole deal,” Downey said. “I’m so mad right now that I’m unemployed because of their antics up there.”

Following Downey’s departure, Bigfork hired a new basketball coach and activities director, and Harris said he would recommend a new head coach for Whitefish’s program at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting.

According to both Downey and Harris, they first talked about the potential coaching vacancy in Whitefish during last basketball season. Downey, a 1999 Bigfork High School graduate, was in the midst of leading the Vikings to the program’s first undefeated state championship season in Class B. After one season at Bigfork, he emerged as the top choice to replace Mark Casazza at Whitefish among four finalists. His hiring was announced in mid May.

Downey said Whitefish actively recruited him to move up north, but Harris described it as an informal dialogue.

“We had a conversation, but I have conversations with a lot of people who want to coach here and be involved in the program,” Harris said.

Downey said he wanted to be the head coach even if a teaching job didn’t exist within the district. He claims school administrators quit helping him find employment once he signed his contract and then forced his resignation after he failed to find immediate work.

“They are making it look like I resigned,” he said. “I didn’t at all. They told me I had to or they will terminate the contract.”

Harris again adamantly denied that claim.

“We definitely didn’t force his resignation by any means,” Harris said. “We wanted him in our community and to coach our program. That’s why we offered him the job. We definitely wished things would’ve worked out differently. We wish him all the best moving forward.”

Downey said he has received multiple offers from the Spokane area but is unsure what he and his family will do next.

“I’m literally unemployed,” he said. “I wish they never would’ve called me, to be honest with you.”


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