By a split vote during a special meeting Thursday evening the Greenfield Exempted Village Schools Board of Education decided not to renew Jesse Mitchell’s contract as the head McClain boys basketball coach.
The vote was 3-1 to not renew the contract with board president Eric Zint and board members Jason Allison and Charley Roman voting in favor of a motion not to renew Mitchell’s contract as basketball coach, and board member Sandy Free voting against it. Board member Marilyn Mitchell, Jesse Mitchell’s mother, abstained from the vote.
In three years as the varsity coach, Mitchell’s teams posted an overall record of 17-52, including 3-20 this past season.
Superintendent Joe Wills said Friday that Mitchell will retain his position as the district’s technology director, but he declined comment on why Mitchell’s basketball coaching contract was not renewed or whether the school district was actively searching for a new coach.
“I would rather not comment on matters of employment,” Wills said repeatedly.
Wills said school board president Eric Zint deferred phone calls made to him from The Times-Gazette seeking comment to the superintendent.
A 1999 McClain High School graduate who played for storied Tiger coach Rick Van Matre, Mitchell did not return phone calls Friday seeking comment on the board’s decision.
But when he was hired as varsity coach Mitchell said that when he was playing basketball for Van Matre it never struck him that one day he might follow in his coach’s footsteps. He said he originally started attending McClain boys practices to work out as part of the scout team, ended up volunteering as a coach for six years, then was asked to take to other coaching positions.
Mitchell served as a volunteer coach with the McClain boys jayvee team for fours years and as a volunteer varsity assistant for two years. He then coached the eighth grade boys team for two years and was a girls varsity assistant the two years before he was selected to lead the boys program.
“I just kind of feel into it,” Mitchell said when he was hired. “Basketball is a way for me to work with the youth.”
“I’ve always loved basketball, the Xs and Os and the camaraderie among the players and coaches, and that’s what we’re going to try to build,” he added at that time.
After graduating from Ohio University with a degree in computer science, Mitchell worked in the private sector for several years before becoming part of the school staff.
Things have not went well for the McClain boys basketball program since Van Matre’s departure following the 2008-09 season with a 28-year record of 472-170. He was followed by Brent Eaton, who went 37-49 in four years, Joe Wisecup, who went 18-26 in two years, and now Mitchell.
Angela Shepherd contributed to this story.