Franklin School Board rejects offer to review DVD showing post-game altercation
Greg Husband, of Franklin, N.H., the coach of the New Hampshire team, is seen during a practice session for the Shrine Bowl 2009 at the Kimball Union Academy football field in Meriden, N.H., on Friday, July 24, 2009.
Valley News - Jakob M. Berr
As expected, the Franklin School Board rejected a request late Monday night to view a DVD that supporters of the fired high school football coach said would have cleared his name and, they hoped, led to his reinstatement.
Charles Carey, the father of a player on the team, was one of at least 20 people who spoke on behalf of former coach Greg Husband, all trying to convince the school board that it had made a mistake by firing Husband last month after receiving a stern warning from the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association.
The NHIAA was responding to complaints by Mascoma Valley Regional High that Franklin players had used profanity and engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct following Franklin’s 20-point win in the state championship game last November.
Board policy allows the public to speak about any topic at meetings, but input from the board on personnel matters is off limits, leaving Carey and others frustrated Monday in the packed, humid gymnasium.
“I said that instead of wasting any more time here, because we had been standing around for 4½ hours sweating, that I wanted to waste seven minutes of their time and show them a video that would clearly nip this in the bud,” Carey said yesterday by phone.
The video, obtained by the Monitor during the meeting, was shot soon after the game and shows a Franklin player saying something to a Mascoma coach during the traditional post-game handshaking ceremony near midfield.
The player appears to pull free from the coach’s grip and trots away, then the Mascoma coach proceeds to direct his players away from the line. The players cannot be heard speaking, but Husband has admitted that his player said, “Who’s laughing now?” a reference to a newspaper headline after Mascoma’s win over Franklin early in the season.
Mascoma Coach Ray Kershaw filed a complaint with the NHIAA, saying Franklin players had taunted his players and, along with fans, directed profanity at them.
Following an investigation, NHIAA Executive Director Pat Corbin revealed in a letter to both schools and obtained by the Monitor that the Franklin administration’s “sense was that at least some of the Franklin players probably did in fact use the alleged profanity.”
Further, according to the letter, Franklin’s administration expressed its “disappointment in the absence of any remorse or accountability for the student behavior regardless of the profanity issue.”
In conclusions, Corbin wrote, the sportsmanship committee “instructed me to inform Franklin that their program will be under careful scrutiny in the coming years and that any sportsmanship infractions, even minor instances, will lead to sanctions against the Franklin football program and potentially the entire athletic program.”
“The NHIAA clearly stated it’s a he said/she said case, and they couldn’t prove it either,” Carey said. “But it also says in the letter that the administration felt there was profanity, so it’s nothing more than the administration selling the (team) out.”
In a closed session of a school board meeting less than three weeks after the NHIAA released its findings, Husband was fired, later replaced by his assistant, Jeff Kaplan, and the minutes were sealed for 50 years, prompting many in the football community to wonder if something had been covered up.
Husband, who believes the video gives no clear indication of overtly bad behavior by Franklin players and fans, has long believed that Superintendent Maureen Ward used the Mascoma controversy as an excuse to dismiss him.
Ward, Husband feels, has harbored ill will toward him since last summer, when he left his wife, a woman who is close friends with Ward, Husband said. Since then, Husband has been blamed, directly or through insinuations, with taking money from the football program and allowing female chaperones to attend football camp last August, against school policy.
Husband, in fact, filed a harassment complaint with the school administrative unit. He declined comment yesterday when asked if he’d seek legal channels to unseal the minutes from the board’s closed session last month.
Meanwhile, his supporters were out in force Monday night, addressing the school board after about three hours of routine topics listed on the agenda. Friends and former players, shown on the WMUR website, said Husband had served as a role model and never received due process.
Said one former player: “I think it is time maybe that you guys thought about the kids and not what you care about.”
Supporters were scheduled to meet last night and again tonight to discuss what to do next, Carey said.
“I assume there will be another petition going around, a vote of no confidence to the school board and the superintendent,” Carey said. “We’ll try anything we can do at this point to show what we believe.”