Mike Mitchell, who ran Wickenburg High School’s football program for four years, recently resigned because he felt undermined by an administrator’s move to promote an assistant coach without his knowledge.
The assistant was promoted to assistant head coach, according to Mitchell. It was reported by The Wickenburg Sun that Mitchell was contacted and disciplined for violating school district procedure last season.
Mitchell, 76, was still planning to come back before saying the school promoted the assistant to take part in his head coaching duties without speaking to him.
“Our athletic director made a move that I didn’t appreciate,” Mitchell said The Arizona Republic. “That was involved in everything. I just decided it was time to go.”
Sporting director Matt Johnson called it “a miscommunication”.
“The Wickenburg athletic department intends for Mike Mitchell to become our head coach this season,” Johnson said in an email. “It was a misunderstanding, I asked him to train an assistant.”
Mitchell felt undermined.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought we did a really good job here and I liked the situation. There are a few things. You have a permissions rule that I tried to change. They don’t seem to want to get ahead at all. If they don’t want to hear what I have to say, they can listen to someone else.”
The Wranglers were 24-17 with three state playoff appearances during Mitchell’s tenure. He said he is returning to Oregon to lead the football program at Caldera High School in Bend.
“Mike has done a great job for us and we wish him well in his new coaching job in Oregon,” said Johnson.
Mitchell said a week last season he suspended 16 players for a game due to the eligibility rule. He felt players should have had until Thursday to pick up their grades to play on Friday, but said they would have to sit out the whole week.
Mitchell, who has more than 50 years of coaching experience at all levels, said he was disciplined to use his own money to buy football gear during the season. He said he had not completed the required paperwork through the school and the district to do so.
“Matt will say I didn’t do anything illegal,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t been texted in over 50 years. I insulted it.”
Mitchell said the purchase was made during the season, but he wasn’t notified of it until March 4.
“It’s a little crazy to me,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he’d taken care of it, but when his assistant was appointed to share coaching duties with him, he knew he had to go.
“Everything else I would have handled and worked out,” Mitchell said. “But getting a guy to do it without talking to me is just not my way of doing business.”
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