By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
Contracts for Fort Sumner basketball coaches Brian Fortner and Wes Weems will not be renewed for the 2006-07 season, school officials said Monday.
Fortner coached the Vixens for three years, and Weems was the Foxes’ coach for the last two seasons.
“I was floored,” Fortner said. “They told me I was an excellent coach when I had talented players, but I didn’t do well with remedial ones.”
The Vixens were 69-18 under Fortner and won the Class 1A state title in 2005. The Foxes were 42-14 in Weems’ two seasons.
Fortner is also out as the school’s track coach, but will finish the season with the team.
“It can’t be about performance,” Fortner said, “because track had only been going on for a week (when the decision was made).”
Fortner said his teaching contract was renewed, and he will continue teaching at the high school. Weems’ teaching contract was not renewed.
Weems said he was told by Superintendent Patricia Miller that he won’t be back for the next school year because he was not eligible to teach special education classes.
“It gave them an easy out,” Weems said.
Weems had been teaching special ed classes with a provisional license.
He said he was told the move had more to do with personality than it did with winning or losing.
“They didn’t think I fit into the coaching staff,” Weems said. “My coaching style didn’t fit the community.”
Miller said she was not able to comment about personnel issues.
“I cannot say anything about why their contracts were not renewed or anything about what they’ve said,” she said.
Fort Sumner Athletic Director Chris Dimitroff also said she could not comment.
“All I can say is we have an opening for a boys and girls basketball coach,” Dimitroff said. “And we’ll look for the best people to fill those positions.”
Miller said the school will begin the job hunt by placing an ad on the New Mexico Activities Association Web site.
“We’re looking for people who are, first, excellent in the classroom and, second, excellent in coaching,” she said. “They have to be able to take control of a program from varsity to JV to younger kids.”
Miller said there were teaching openings at the school, so she is not limited to hiring someone from within.
Fortner said he was surprised by the move, but harbors no ill will toward the school or the administration and will continue teaching at the high school.
“It’s a no-lose situation,” he said. “I’ve got a great job.”