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Martinsburg coaching position bouncing around

January 15, 1998

Martinsburg coaching position bouncing around

From staff and AP reports

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - First Dave Rogers was out, then he was in, then back out as Martinsburg High School's basketball coach. Now he's back in, his attorney said Thursday.

Unresolved is which coach will be on the bench for the rest of the season.

The West Virginia Education and State Employees Grievance Board has reinstated Rogers to the position he held for 19 years before being forced to resign in 1994, the year he led the school to the Class AAA championship, said his attorney, Larry Schultz.

It would be the fourth coaching change at the school in four years.

Rogers was replaced by Victor L. Holmes for the 1994-95 season when Rogers became principal at Martinsburg South Middle School and was forced out as coach.

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Rogers had been assistant principal at Martinsburg High School and had been offered the position of principal at South Middle School by then-superintendent James Bennett, according to Schultz. Bennett told Rogers that principals could not serve as coaches, Schultz said Thursday.

"The superintendent was wrong. There is no law that says principals can't be coaches," Schultz said. Rogers was forced to make "a false choice," according to his lawyer.

The school system advertised for applicants for the coaching position, but Schultz said that posting was later replaced by a posting for a one-year interim coaching position. Holmes was the only applicant, Schultz said.

After one season, Rogers applied to get the job back, and the Berkeley County Board of Education let Holmes go and rehired Rogers for the 1995-96 season.

Holmes, the school's longtime baseball coach, appealed to the grievance board and won in January 1996, although he waited until the start of the next season to take over. A board judge in June 1996 affirmed Holmes' reinstatement.

Rogers won the latest appeal from the grievance board, Schultz said. The ruling was made Tuesday by Administrative Law Judge Jeff Weatherholt, he said.

Schultz said Thursday it wasn't immediately clear whether Rogers would take over the job right away.

He said a meeting would be held first with Holmes, his attorney and a grievance judge.

If Holmes appeals, the case would go before a circuit court judge, Schultz said.

Schultz said he hoped the transition would be graceful and ''in the best interest of the students, whatever we can agree that that is.''

Schultz said Thursday that reinstating Rogers "will probably require board action." The next meeting of the board of education is Tuesday, Jan. 20.

"We'll do whatever the order tells us to do," school board President Bill Sonnik said Thursday. "I hope for the sake of the kids we will have some continuity through the end of the season."

Holmes' attorney, Danny Staggers, was not available for comment Thursday.

Holmes could not be reached Thursday at school, which was closed for the day due to an ice storm. Schultz said Rogers was out of town.

Martinsburg is 7-3 and ranked eighth in this week's Class AAA Associated Press state basketball poll.

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