I didn’t grow up in Western Pennsylvania. The WPIAL doesn’t hold any special meaning for me, other than being a vital part of Pitt recruiting. So I don’t stay up on all the intrigue and battles over transfers within the league. I would have no idea who coaches which teams if someone asked. But from the very beginning of this blog, there has been one exception. One coach and one program that even I kept some glimmer of awareness. Gateway and Terry Smith.
Smith and Gateway were very successful on the field. More importantly to this site, he would regularly turn out not just Division 1 recruits, but highly sought D-1 recruits. And while Smith was a former Penn State wide receiver, he was always looking out for his own players interests. Not trying to steer them to PSU or away from Pitt.
So to see tweet late yesterday night that Smith could be fired from Gateway was a stunner.
It is a month or so before practices begin for high school football. The idea that Gateway would wait until now to make a move is unbelievable.
As at most schools, there are budget issues at Gateway that seem to be the primary issue.
The Gateway School District has been struggling with declining enrollment, rising employee costs and loss of state revenue.
In all, 15 elementary school classrooms and 27 teaching positions will be eliminated. The district will also adopt a pay-to-play sports program for the middle and high schools.
The athletic director’s position was also reduced to part-time. That decision that will likely mean Terry Smith, who is also the school’s football coach, will leave the district.
Terry Smith is the school’s athletic director. Last year he made around $95,000 in the position plus an additional $10,000 as the football coach. His salary would be roughly halved as a part-time AD. There aren’t many quad-A schools with only a part-time AD.
While Smith hasn’t said anything publicly about the situation, there have already been charges of racism in the decisionmaking. That always keeps things calm.
No one is sure what the outcome will be. At this late date, Smith would be unlikely to find a new job for the upcoming year. So maybe he finishes this final season. At the very least, because of the kids. That is if the school board decides to keep him at all after Wednesday. There is a question that his presence might be considered too much of a lightening rod for for the school. But that would also have them scrambling to find a coach (and even a part-time AD) for the coming year.
After the season, there is no doubt he would be highly sought by other schools in the WPIAL. Or even as a college assistant. He’s no doubt had the opportunities.
One way or another, it looks like there is a major shift happening in the WPIAL.