Terry Smith was a lock to keep his job at Gateway (Pa.) High when the year began. The athletic director and football coach single-handedly turned an under-performing program into a perennial powerhouse during his 10 years at the school. Not only that, Gateway went 92-28 with six WPIAL conference titles, and the school churned out 40 Division I college scholarships.
Smith's sterling resume had him in the upper echelon of football coaches in the state, juggling two different jobs and making $95,000 per year as the district's athletic director. It seemed like the perfect situation for Smith, who graduated from Gateway in 1987, but after this season the dream could be coming to an end.
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, the district, citing state-wide budget cuts, was forced to consider whether it made financial sense to retain Smith. After taking it to a vote, the school board approved a resolution that would prevent Smith from having a supplemental contract as the school's football coach.
The new policy, which takes effect after Jan. 1, means Smith will no longer be able to hold the AD and head coach position past this year. Not only that, for the upcoming school year he'll be forced to work two jobs at only 50 percent of what he was making in 2011.
School budget cuts are going on around the country, but as CBS affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh pointed out, Gateway's decision to give Smith only one season, and potentially let him go at the end of this year, may have more to do with a power struggle than a balanced budget.
Smith's aggregate salary for the past academic year did top six figures, and a demotion would cut it roughly in half. Still, even if he were to maintain his full-time status, that salary would comprise less than one percent of the district's total 2012-13 budget.
If Smith's salary only comprises "less than one percent of the district's total 2012-13 budget," you have to wonder who's driving the budget bus. KDKA reported there are rumors it could be Mitch Adams, the boys basketball head coach at Gateway, and one of Smith's biggest enemies.
Both coaches have been trying to get the other removed for years. As KDKA noted, there's talk Smith, who's African American, gave the school board his support to cut Smith's pay and position at Gateway.
"It appears that they're using the excuse of budgets and funding as a personal vendetta against coach Smith," Gateway Football Boosters Association President Jim Moore told ABC affiliate WTAE in Pittsburgh. "Is it racially charged? Is it personally charged? You be the judge."
The way this whole situation is going, we'd be willing to bet this won't be the last time you'll hear from Smith and Gateway before the year is over.