Lake Minneola football hire could not come to contract terms

Brett Bennett was convinced that Lake Minneola was the right place to land his first football head coaching job after meeting with parents and players Thursday night.

But everything changed after he received a Lake County contract the next day.

“I realized I was going to take a 20% pay decrease from where I’m at right now as an assistant in Escambia County,” Bennett told the Orlando Sentinel late Wednesday night. “If they could have matched it somehow I could have made it work.”

According to Lake County Schools, the starting base pay for teachers in the school district is $48,500. Football head coaching supplemental pay ranges from $4,177 to $4,560 depending on years of experience.

Bennett, 36, met with Lake Minneola principal William Roberts on Monday morning about the salary arrangement. He went back to Pensacola, where he has coached the past seven seasons at Escambia High, to talk things over with his family and a financial advisor.

That left players without a head coach on the first day of spring football practices later that afternoon.

“We already had a limited number of coaches because of the transition. It was just me not being out there because I was trying to handle things and make sure the decision would be made in a timely fashion,” Bennett said.

“Maybe there was some miscommunication somewhere, but I communicated what was going on with some parents and coaches I had numbers for and the principal and assistant principal,” he said.

Among those Bennett contacted was former Lake Minneola head coach and athletic director Walter Banks, who resigned from those positions March 28.

Banks had initially agreed to coach through the end of the spring. That changed when Bennett was hired last week and the school opted to move ahead with the transition.

“Originally I was going to come down there as much as possible throughout the spring, but the principal back home let me know Friday that I can’t use my sick days for that,” Bennett said. “Then I asked Banks about revisiting his plan for spring practices before the salary thing came along.”

Bennett alerted the school Tuesday of his decision not to sign the contract.

“I was so excited to be the head coach at Lake Minneola, but as soon as I found out about the contract, instead of saying ‘No, I’m not doing it,’ I went to see if there was some way we could work it out,” Bennett said.

“I didn’t just decide that I didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said. “It all happened so fast and I was trying to compress all these things in a small period of time. I feel bad for the kids and parents.”

This article originally appeared on Email J.C. Carnahan at