By Mark Carpenter –
An unfortunate series of events has led to the resignation of Manchester boys varsity basketball coach Joey Darnell, along with his top assistant, JV coach McKenzie Smith. Darnell and Smith submitted their resignations to MHS administration on Monday afternoon.
In a phone interview with The Defender, Darnell relayed his version of the events which led to the unfortunate resignation.
Last Saturday night (Dec. 16), the Greyhounds hosted Green in a non-conference game and were handed a 70-58 defeat. After the game, Coach Darnell called a late practice for his team and in that practice, one of the Manchester players suffered a possible season-ending injury.
On Monday afternoon, Darnell received a call from an MHS administrator asking him to come to a meeting. At that meeting, Darnell was informed that the administration was going to suspend him for seven games, a number which according to the former coach, was explained to him as a combination of numbers correlating to transgressions he had committed thus far this basketball season. Darnell refused to accept the seven-game ban and instead turned in his letter of resignation.
The plan then was to promote JV coach Smith to the varsity position, but the JV coach also turned in his resignation, leaving the Greyhounds temporarily without a varsity coaching staff, with a game scheduled for Tuesday night in Ripley.
On Tuesday morning, The Defender spoke to Manchester superintendent Brian Rau.
“The whole bottom line is that Joey and McKenzie resigned last night,” said Rau. “For the Tuesday night game, eighth grade girls coach Blake Blevins will coach and then there are a couple of people we are talking to today that are thinking about taking the job long-term.”
“It is an unfortunate situation for the student-athletes who are involved. The school is doing everything they can to ensure that they will continue to have a good season. We really wanted Blake to take the job full-time but he was honest and just told us he wasn’t ready.”
“The seven games in now a moot point now because there is no disciplinary action since Coach Darnell resigned,” continued Rau. “I totally respect their decisions but it is just one of those unfortunate things that they decided to resign, and I don’t hold that against them.”
Also part of this equation was some of the Greyhound varsity players threatening a boycott, but Rau assured The Defender that plenty of players would be available on Tuesday night.
“We have plenty of players tell us that they were going to play and not quit, so we have plenty and the boys that suit up will play their hearts out and they will play to win.”
At the time of the resignation, the Manchester boys varsity squad sported an overall record of 2-4.
Late Tuesday night, The Defender also received information that two assistant coaches on the varsity girls coaching staff left their positions after parent issues and perceived lack of support from administration. That information came from one of the coaches involved, who will not be named at this time.