Archbishop Murphy coach Dave Ward put on leave after sending unauthorized email

Archbishop Murphy High School placed head football coach Dave Ward on administrative leave because of an email Ward sent to parents last week, Archbishop Murphy president Bob Graby said Wednesday.

The school placed Ward on leave Monday.

In the email, which was sent Friday, Ward outlined a new future for the Archbishop Murphy football program, calling it a “much needed change of direction.” The first step in that new direction was requesting the resignation of assistant coach Jeff Schmidt, which Ward did in a meeting with Schmidt last week.

According to Graby and acting athletic director Jerry Zander, the email was not authorized by the school’s board of directors and was the main reason Ward was put on administrative leave.

“(The email) did not keep up with school policy,” Zander said.

Graby added that the decision to put Ward on administrative leave was a collective decision made by the administration.

Ward said Wednesday afternoon he would not comment on the email or the administration’s decision.

Zander said Archbishop Murphy allows its head coach to make changes to the coaching staff, but there is an official process to follow. Zander would not elaborate on that process.

In the email Ward paints a picture of a fractured program that “many good coaches have left or are leaving out of disgust and discouragement.” He points to the decision to ask for Schmidt’s resignation as a turning point.

“With this change in our staff, I intend to terminate a disruptive sub-culture that has developed during my four-year tenure as head coach,” Ward wrote.

“Working relationships between coaches need to be based on respect and trust. … Next year’s staff will learn to not be jealous or seek unwarranted control and power.”

Ward continued: “With this change I hope to build a staff that works together without any coach wanting the credit for our success on or off the field.”

When asked about the contents of the email, Zander and Graby refused to comment. Schmidt could not be reached for comment.

Ward’s email details problems on and off the field, including a “linemen bus,” which he writes “has served to divide and disrupt team unity.” Other off-the-field issues Ward addressed in the e-mail include an unhealthy dependence on one person to create scout videos, a confusion about who is the head coach and adults around the program “fomenting dissension.”

In a postscript, Ward writes that interviews will begin “next week to hire from an exciting pool of experienced college and high school coaches that have expressed an interest in contributing to” the Murphy football program.

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