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W.Va. coach quits in wake of accusations

May 16, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg High School football coach Francis "Mick" Roesel, accused of making profane and cruel statements to members of his team, resigned Thursday night.

Roesel said he decided to resign because of the cost of pursuing the case and because of the effect doing so would have on the team.

Superintendent of Schools James E. Bennett said he thought the decision was a good one for the school's football program, which he said had been under a shadow.

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Allegations against Roesel, who has been coaching the Bulldogs for three years, were outlined in an April 8 letter to Roesel from Bennett.

School officials had recommended Roesel's coaching contract be terminated because of allegations that comments had been made toward students, that other coaches had been demeaned in the presence of students and that clothes had been thrown at students in anger, according to Bennett's letter to Roesel.

"Cruelty? Geez. I had parents telling me I wasn't tough enough on their kids," Roesel said Thursday night after his resignation.

Roesel said allegations that he made cruel statements to players were overblown, and said he believes school officials wanted to end his contract because people were not happy with the team's record.

Martinsburg's record the last three years under Roesel was 11 and 19.

Roesel's resignation followed hours of testimony on two separate days during which the Berkeley County Board of Education heard from the administration and Roesel.

Before testimony before the school board was to resume Thursday, the board voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters. Roesel, who was at the meeting, offered his resignation, said George Sonnik, president of the board.

Daniel Staggers, Roesel's attorney, said he believed Roesel had a strong case.

The administration did not present any witnesses to substantiate the allegations that Roesel had made cruel and profane statements to athletes, said Staggers.

And school officials did not give Roesel any written plan of improvement as required by law, Staggers said.

Several members of the football team testified during a Tuesday session of the hearing that Roesel motivated them to play better, and that he was a fun person to be around.

"There was no lack in him. There was lack in players," James Franklin, the team's quarterback, testified Tuesday.

Officials had opened the hearing to the public at Roesel's request.

In exchange for Roesel's resignation, the board agreed to withdraw the charges against Roesel and to pay his attorney fees, Sonnik said. School officials could not say how much Roesel's attorney fees were.

Before coaching at Martinsburg, Roesel had been defensive coordinator for the Shepherd College football team between 1989 and 1991. Before that, he was a defensive coordinator at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., and had coached at Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University, in Kirksville, Mo.

Roesel also teaches social studies at Martinsburg High, a job he plans to keep, he said.

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