Former Huntley boys swimming and diving coach George Keenan and assistant coach Michelle Bradford resigned on Dec. 9 due to a disagreement with athletic director Chris Rozanski in which Keenan said Rozanski “accused us of trying to leave a kid at a swim meet.”
Neither of the coaches nor Rozanski were initially willing to disclose the nature of the argument that prompted the coaches to abruptly resign. The team was then forced to withdraw from competitions on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11.
But in the coaches’ letters of resignation received Thursday through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, Keenan and Bradford indicated that the disagreement hinged upon events following the swim meet on Dec. 5 at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora. Keenan initially provided his letter of resignation to the Northwest Herald on Dec. 13.
The bus planned to leave Huntley High School at 3 p.m., but, according to Keenan, two freshmen took the 2:30 p.m. bus the team normally rides to practices at Centegra Health System. When the freshmen realized they took the wrong bus, a parent of one of the boys drove them from Centegra to the meet in Aurora. Keenan said he planned to let the boys swim, but they took too long in the locker room, so he held them out of the meet.
After the meet, Keenan decided that, since a parent drove the two freshmen to the meet, the parent should drive them home. He said the parent who drove the boys to the meet did not have room in the parent's car, so another parent took the second boy home.
Keenan insists, though, that he secured rides for both boys, a point that is at the crux of the disagreement.
"They can argue whether that is correct or not or if it’s policy," said Keenan, who was in his second season with the Red Raiders boys' team. "But they were taken care of. They had a ride home."
The meet on Dec. 6 took place as planned. Then, Keenan said Rozanski questioned him over the phone on Dec. 8 and at an in-person meeting on Dec. 9.
“He said he received a phone call from a parent that said we attempted to leave a kid at the swim meet,” Keenan said.
“Questioning my concern for the safety of children is an absolute, absolute outright insult. I’ve been coaching for 10 years and I have nothing but the utmost respect from the parents and the kids.”
Rozanski declined to comment, giving a "no comment" on Dec. 13, but said earlier via email that he “did not ask either individual to resign.”
Bradford also declined to comment.
But in her letter of resignation, she wrote: “I cannot continue my coaching responsibilities for the boys swim season knowing I am not fully supported, without just cause, by the high school athletic leadership. I am offended that the Athletic Director would contact me to imply that I would be irresponsible for the safety of students. The safety of the athletes has always been a top priority as demonstrated by my professionalism, outstanding reviews, and positive parent feedback while coaching the District 158 Swim Teams.”
Keenan said he spoke with parents of both boys and firmly believes they were not the parent or parents who called Rozanski.
“They were apologetic about them missing the bus,” Keenan said. “They fully support us and understand why we did what we did and why they couldn’t swim in the meet.”
The coaching positions have been posted on the District 158 website. The 11-member team will continue to practice under the supervision of school employees, Rozanski said.
Keenan, who also coached the girls team, led the girls team to third place at the Fox Valley Conference meet and eighth in the sectional. It is unclear whether he or Bradford will continue to coach the girls swim team, though Keenan indicated that it is not likely he will return.
“To work for a guy who doesn’t have your back would be difficult, to say the least,” he said. “Parents want me to come back and coach the girls. For sure. But like I said, under these circumstances, it’s difficult.”
The Huntley boys next swim meet is scheduled for Jan. 7 against Jacobs.