Out at Homewood-Flossmoor, Anthony Smith awaits IHSA fate
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org April 16, 2014 8:46PM
Head Coach Tony Smith reacts to a play by his team against Hillcrest at Homewood-Flossmoor High School on November 21, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 19, 2014 2:06PM
Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball coach Anthony Smith didn’t get good news this week when the District 233 school board voted Tuesday night not to bring him back as coach and as a teacher for the 2014-15 school year.
Whether Smith coaches anywhere next season is the next question.
Another emotional day awaits Tuesday, when the Illinois High School Association’s board of directors meets to discuss the status of Smith’s “indefinite suspension” Feb. 19 as a result of violations of IHSA’s athletic participation rules and allegations of illegal recruiting.
“Absolutely, we expect a positive outcome next week,” Smith’s lawyer, Patrick Mayerbock, said. “Tony is a fantastic coach with a great deal to offer. The first thing is to get him back on track, get him coaching and doing what he does best.”
IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said he’s confident Smith’s fate will be decided at the meeting.
“Either they’ll say, ‘We’re going to end Tony’s suspension, or we’re going to continue with his suspension to a certain point and time. Those are really the two options.
“Obviously, we’ll report (the District 233 board’s actions) to the (IHSA) board next week and they’ll do what they think is the right thing to do. Personally, I don’t know that (school board) decision will, one way or another, have a whole lot of influence on the board’s decision. But we’ll see on Tuesday.”
Neither Smith nor his attorney was present at Tuesday night’s emotional school board meeting, during which several players and their parents appeared before the board and made passionate appeals on Smith’s behalf — at the same time chiding school administrators for not doing enough in support of the players on the team.
“It was best to let them do what they needed to do,” Mayerbock said. “We’ve made our statements, and obviously it was out of our hands at that point.”
The school board voted 4-3 to not renew Smith’s contract for next school year. When the decision was announced, several of his supporters indicated their dismay.
The decision didn’t officially eliminate the possibility Smith could be rehired as a teacher at H-F, but District 233 Supt. Von Mansfield indicated that it was not being considered.
Mayerbock said he couldn’t discuss what Smith might do in light of the board’s decision.
“I think Tony has dedicated himself, and his work speaks for itself,” he said. “I don’t think Tony has been given a fair shot, but I can’t go into details.
“Tony is a strong man. That I can say without any hesitation. He’s constantly looking forward to positive things. He has a very positive outlook.”
During his lone season as H-F coach, the Vikings were 21-2 but had all of their wins forfeited by the IHSA after the school and Smith were found to have violated the IHSA’s participation rules.
Smith won four state championships in 12 years as the girls coach at Bolingbrook High School but left last year to take the post at H-F. Rumors soon surfaced that he planned to bring in several transfers — rumors that were verified when six players switched to H-F, including four from Bolingbrook. All of the transfers were approved by the IHSA.
H-F, meanwhile, appears in the clear with the IHSA, and no other sanctions are forthcoming, according to Hickman.
“H-F has been extremely cooperative and put a number of things in place,” he said. “We’ve been talking all along about the things they’re doing going forward, and I’m extremely pleased with the steps they’ve taken. The school has done everything we’ve asked and done it in a very professional manner. From that end, we’re very satisfied.”