Haverford's Long-Time Boys' Basketball Coach Dismissed
Terry McNichol was coach of the Fords for 15 years when the Haverford School District decided on a change, says sources.
The second-annual Hero Scholarship basketball game last Friday night brought some of the best from Delaware County’s high school basketball community to Cardinal O’Hara.
It also brought an underlying ripple of shock, as word spread throughout the strong coaching fraternity there that one of their own, a longtime stalwart, who holds the respect of every coach in the area was suddenly dismissed from his position after 15 years. (Editor's note: It was originally stated that Terry McNichol was the coach for 16 years. The correct number is 15.)
Haverford High School dismissed Fords’ boys basketball coach Terry McNichol, a number of sources confirmed, after meeting with Haverford School District superintendent William Keilbaugh on Friday, giving the longtime, and highly admired coach an ultimatum of either “stepping down,” according to sources, or not have his contract renewed for next season. McNichol choose to be dismissed, according to sources.
McNichol was told the program needed "a fresh start," a source, who is close to the incident and asked not to be named, told the Haverford-Havertown Patch.
"(It is a) personal issue, I will not comment," Joann Patterson, the Haverford High School's athletic director, wrote in an e-mail response to Patch's inquiries about the alleged dismissal.
William S. Keilbaugh, superintendent of schools in Haverford Township, has not returned a phone call from Patch.
The Fords finished last season 6-16 overall, but were competitive in a number of games, and McNichol was in the process of building a young team over the last two years.
Haverford School District’s refusal to renew McNichol’s contract also comes in the wake of Haverford’s longtime boys’ soccer coach, Jorge Severini, being asked for his resignation on Dec. 21. Severini was “asked” to leave after 22 years as the Fords’ head coach.
McNichol, whose wife Mary Beth is a highly successful coach at Notre Dame Academy, had built a solid, upstanding reputation in the area as a quality coach and also a very good teacher of basketball who was committed to his players. He never recruited, a rarity in the sometimes high-stakes world of AAU and high schools openly going after prime grade school talent.
Terry McNichol himself could not be reached for comment because he is away on a golf trip with friends in Florida, but a number of coaches there Friday night and over the weekend expressed their regret to McNichol via e-mail and through text messages.
“It’s really a shame, and from I what I understand, it was an utter screw job,” said one coach Friday night, who asked that his name not be used for this story for the time being. “I’ve coached against Terry and have respected the guy for years. He got the best out of his players, and Haverford always played hard. Those kids may not have been the most talented, but you knew you were going to be in a game every time you played Haverford — and all of that is a credit to Terry. The guy is an old-school guy, who has great values. It’s too bad that’s not appreciated anymore.”
One other coach added, “From what I know, Haverford has a system where you’re allowed to file anonymous complaints about a coach and the school and school district takes those complaints into consideration. That’s fine. But as a coach, you should have the right to confront those comments and defend yourself. Coaches deal every year with a few delusional parents who think their kid is the next coming of Michael Jordan and their kid should have gotten more playing time. They take it out on the coach. That sounds like the case here.
“But I can tell you this, Terry McNichol is a great guy and a great coach. He won’t have a problem finding a coaching job anywhere in this area. Though you have to ask yourself this, who’s going to want to coach in the Haverford School District after they fired two really, really highly respected guys like Terry and (Severini). I have a feeling if John Wooden was coaching there, and there were may be a few parents angry over playing time, they would have fired him, too.”