Parents, players and staff members filled a Gilbert school board meeting Tuesday night to share their disapproval – or praise - of a football coach’s recent firing.
The debate stemmed from the firing last week of Gilbert High School football coach Leland Rodgers, who just completed his first season as head coach for the Tigers.
Rodgers told the Tribune that he was dismissed as coach on Friday after he refused to resign.
Several people chose to speak during the Gilbert Unified School District’s regularly scheduled board meeting during the public comment period, though no discussion or vote was on the agenda regarding Rodgers.
“Please investigate the firing of Leland Rodgers and the handling by the administration,” Austin McClellan asked the board. McClellan serves as the freshmen defensive coordinator. He said the parents and students have been failed because of what happened.
“And a good man’s name has been dragged through the mud.”
Tigers football team member Miguel Meza, 15, a sophomore, talked about some of the tough treatment at football camp prior to the start of the season. But, he said, “What happened was not bad.”
“When you take away the coach, you destroy the program. … No one’s going to want to play for Gilbert,” Meza said.
Football camp was a common theme among those who addressed the governing board. Some said Rodgers went overboard with the team with punishment. Others said it’s just part of football camp.
“It’s not Leland Rodgers you should feel sorry for, but the students and athletes who have had this to endure,” said Remy Carrasco. “I have said since camp that every one of the coaches should be fired.”
Carrasco was at camp as a member of the freshmen team staff, but left that role when the team returned.
Senior Zach Berry, 18, another member of the team, said Rodgers was tough, but effective.
“I’ve never had a coach like him who pushed us. I’d like you to reconsider.”
Rodgers told the Tribune last week he was let go because of an anonymous parents' accusations of improper treatment of players. Rodgers said he did nothing wrong. He remains a teacher at Gilbert High School.
Carrasco said he was interviewed by the district as part of an investigation into Rodgers’ coaching.
Board member Staci Burk asked district leaders to provide a report to the board on Rodgers’ firing.
District spokeswoman Dianne Bowers in an email Wednesday morning: "The report to the board will simply be an informational report. There is no further investigation."
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