WELLSVILLE - In a surprise move, the Wellsville Local Board of Education voted to accept the resignation of Rich Wright, Wellsville High School head football coach, at its regular board meeting Monday night.
Fans of Tiger football shouldn't worry, however, because board members unanimously approved to rehire Wright as head coach for the coming season.
In fact, the only thing that will change is Wright's compensation, according to board President Ed Bauer. Wright will serve as head football coach on an unpaid volunteer basis for the 2014-15 season.
Wright gave "no real, sound reason" for his decision to resign from his paid position effective Jan. 8 and move to an unpaid status, Bauer said. "This is something he requested and we just agreed to."
Wright was not present at the meeting at Daw Middle School. Attempts to contact him for a comment on Monday night weren't successful.
Whatever Wright's motives may have been, Bauer said the board was glad for the financial consequences of the move. As a volunteer, Wright will no longer receive the $5,600 normally paid to the WHS head football coach.
"Mr. Wright has been doing an excellent job for us, and there's no reason we wouldn't take advantage of that," Bauer said.
Bauer doubts that Wright was inspired by a desire to save the district money in his decision to become a volunteer coach, though he declined to speculate on what Wright's motivation may have been. "When he said, 'But I want to come back at zero compensation,' we said, fine."
The resolution to hire Wright as an unpaid volunteer originally covered both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. It was modified to include only this coming season.
District Superintendent Richard Bereschik explained that since Wright is returning as a volunteer, he can only be offered a supplemental contract for zero compensation on a single-year basis. "This is in not a reflection on the job Rich has done," Bereschik said.
In his first year at Wellsville, Wright led the Tigers to the playoffs over the course of a 9-3 season, before falling to Norwalk St. Paul in the Division VII, Region 23 semifinals.