Football merger approved

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The Granville and Whitehall football helmets. Photo courtesy of NYVTmedia staff files.

Granville, Whitehall one football team

The Granville and Whitehall Boards of Education have unanimously approved the merger of its respective football programs for the 2022-2023 school year.

“At this point, both athletic committees, as well as our student athletes, feel this is the best thing to do to move forward with our football program,” Whitehall superintendent Patrick Dee said at Whitehall’s school board meeting on Dec. 20.

Granville board member and athletic committee chair Michele O’Brien said there will be one head coach who will be approved by both districts’ superintendents and athletic directors and that both schools’ respective traditions will stay intact.

“An open and even process will be held to post, interview, and hire a head football coach.” O’Brien said on Dec. 13. “That process will be conducted by the superintendent (Tom McGurl and Patrick Dee) and athletic director (Justin Nassivera and Keith Redmond) from each school.

“The committee will post the position to attract both internal and external candidates,” she added. “The committee will select the best candidate based on a review of credentials, references and completing a preset interview process.”

Once selected, the head coach will join the committee to interview and hire the staff and Nassivera and Redmond will indicate hiring stages.

A key point to make disqualifies current Granville junior varsity football head coach Justin Culligan, who was dismissed from Whitehall in 2014. A Jan. 29, 2015 Whitehall Times article by Dan King cited Culligan’s removal for use of “foul language” in a game against Rensselaer on Oct.18, 2014, resulting in Culligan’s firing two days later.

“Any coach who has been terminated or asked to resign from a position at either school will be ineligible for consideration,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien addressed the costs and transportation next in her report to the board.

“Costs for the program will be equally split between the two districts,” she said. “Transportation is an issue for each school. Athletic directors and coaching staff will need to work closely to ensure appropriate levels of transportation are provided and that schedules are considerate of athletic/academic balance, student ability to get to campus, and driver availability.”

Pending approval by both school boards, the athletic committees of both districts agreed Nassivera and Redmond will be “responsible for meeting required deadlines for paperwork to the league and section to meet required merger deadlines.”

Dee said at Whitehall’s meeting that the merger will be on a year-by-year basis.

“All football mergers and athletic mergers go by a year-by-year basis. We’re not entering into an ongoing contract, so we make sure that it works for both districts,” Dee said.

Dee and McGurl will coordinate together on any press releases regarding this merger or future mergers. At Granville’s athletic committee meeting in November, the members discussed the potential for mergers with Whitehall in cheerleading, soccer, wrestling and other sports.

“Moving forward, future athletic or academic mergers will be evaluated and approached if they provide opportunities and benefits to students that either do not exist or that could be enhanced through a merger,” O’Brien said.