WEAVER: Bring Jack back has the right ring to it

Josh Weaver

Standing in the middle of the Gilroy High School quad last week,
I had a candid talk with Jack Daley one day after his dismissal as
athletic director.
Standing in the middle of the Gilroy High School quad last week, I had a candid talk with Jack Daley one day after his dismissal as athletic director.

He didn’t have to talk to me. But in my almost two years here in Gilroy, no matter the topic, he hadn’t denied me once.

He teared up immediately at the mention of his job in the past tense. The anguish was clear in his voice. His eyes wandered as he reminisced about the last 20 years. He said he felt confused. He’s not alone in that.

Since his removal, coming at the conclusion of an official Gilroy Unified School District investigation into the circumstances surrounding the April 7 car accident and subsequent DUI arrest of fired GHS track and field coach Alvin Harrison on an athletic field trip, support for the 11-year athletic director has flooded in. And it appears that there’s no stopping the onslaught until those in his corner get what they want – Daley back in charge of GHS athletics.

“Bring Jack Back” – an impromptu slogan – will remain as the “battle cry.” It circulated around the sanctuary at South Valley Community Church on Tuesday night where a small, yet proactive group armed with a common goal, gathered together to stoke a flame of concern fueled by an overwhelming dissent by coaches, parents, colleagues and community members to the decision last week by the school board to re-assign Daley.

They want to know what Daley did to be kicked out of the job he so passionately loves. If it’s so terrible, why is he still employed? Why only take from him his athletic director post? All they want to do is fight for a man they feel deserves better.

I’d like to have some of those same questions answered. Piecing together relatively insignificant comments is becoming tiresome.

Legal quagmire has stymied the amount of response we are receiving, which only makes the situation more frustrating.

My take: Communication failed somewhere in the chain of command involving background checks and an invalid driver’s license, and now a well-respected individual has become the focus of what is turning into a much larger issue.

By his own account, Daley handed the keys to the rental van over to Harrison for use on an athletic field trip without the knowledge the coach had a suspended driver’s license.

I’ve asked him that question at least five times. And each time it’s an emphatic “no.”

I believe him. And listening to his acquaintances – some who have known Jack for 20 years, coached with him, neighbors, parents who have had multiple kids graduate under Jack’s watch – over the past week and a half, most say Daley doesn’t have it in him to hide the truth. It seems foolish to go against the word of hundreds of influential members of the GHS family.

This situation will not disappear overnight. People just won’t let it.

In hindsight, Harrison wasn’t a good hire. That is way too easy to say now. At the time, other track and field coaches were consulted, and for the most part, were OK with Harrison coming aboard.

The GHS track team has four very talented sprinters who have said they benefited from Harrison’s knowledge. But as a head coach, he failed. He crossed boundaries, frayed relationships and divided a team.

The one-time Olympic champion sprinter has selfishly, though I think inadvertently, shook up a community-centered high school.

A series of poor decisions has landed Harrison in jail. While here in Gilroy a beloved athletic director no longer has a position he holds dear to his heart.

Jack was one of the first people I met when I stepped into my role with The Dispatch. I have been to hundreds of prep games since my arrival – three, four, five per week. At every one, before and after, Jack was there.

Only a few days after the original story broke, I saw Jack at Christopher High. He had escorted the Mustangs tennis team to its scheduled match against the Cougars, filling in for the head coach, who was unavailable. Later that week, Daley was working the door at a GHS volleyball match. He rarely stopped doing his job – at least, he didn’t until he was forced to.

For an individual to commit so much time, effort and dedication to one job for so long only to be pushed out with little reasoning, makes no sense. And that is the problem.

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