To the editor: By now it is common knowledge that Mike Gurski has removed his name from consideration for the position of football coach at Shamokin Area. While, as a member of the school board, I took exception to several of the allegations contained in his letter, I had concluded that the most prudent course of action was to simply let the matter rest. After all, the majority of his statements are unsubstantiated, and Mr. Gurski is entitled to his opinion, regardless of the accuracy (or lack thereof) of those opinions. The allegations put forth by board President Brian Persing, on the other hand, require a response, due to his position on the school board.

Like Gurski, Persing cited "deeper political issues" on the part of some board members as a detriment to the hiring process. Persing stated, "If I weren't on the board, Mike Gurski would have been hired by now." Persing went on to say, "The fact is that there are a couple board members who hold the fact that he's (Gurski) a friend of mine against him," and "Because he's a friend of mine, he's being punished."

I feel confident in stating, on behalf of myself and the majority of our board, that his statements are a fabrication, devoid of any credence. The sole relevance of the friendship between Persing and Gurski with respect to the coaching position, lies in the fact that Persing used that friendship as a major criteria in lobbying on Gurski's behalf. And Persing did indeed lobby for his friend. In fact, so confident was Persing in having the "five votes" to hire Gurski, that he resisted the notion of even interviewing all eight candidates. His original intent was to interview perhaps half the applicants, in order to create the appearance of impartiality. It was only at my insistence that all candidates were given an opportunity to present their respective credentials. It was also widely reported that Mr. Gurski was already in the process of contacting prospective candidates for his staff.

As for Mr. Getchey's statement that, "People in this area need to quit this Lourdes-Shamokin-Coal Township stuff," I have a list of certain individuals within Getchey's circle of friends, with whom he would do well to share that advice. Getchey also opined that "People need to let this process take its course. Now there are hard feelings." Translation: "Don't ask any questions. Just let Brian and I make the decision."

The fact is that at least five members of the board went into this process with no pre-conceived favorite. We were interested only in identifying the candidate who best exhibited the qualities necessary to create a successful program. Personally, I was in attendance for the interviews, an exhausting seven-hour process. At 10 p.m., having interviewed seven of the eight candidates, I was leaning heavily toward one particular candidate. To be perfectly honest, I was thinking, "Let's get this last guy in, and get out of here."

The lone remaining applicant was Yaacov Yisreal, an individual with whom none of us were truly familiar, and it's safe to say there wasn't a high degree of enthusiasm on our part when he began.

That malaise vanished as he spoke. We became increasingly impressed with the dialogue put forth by this personable and knowledgeable man. Equally impressive were his references, which included several highly placed individuals within various Division I football programs. Independent research conducted by several of us, yielded nothing but positive comments. Finally, two members of our advisory committee offered an enthusiastic endorsement of Yisreal.

I could go on, but in the interest of brevity, I will conclude by saying that there are those of us who are now convinced that "Coach Cove," as he prefers to be addressed, represents the greatest opportunity to resurrect our program.

In my opinion, any bitterness or negativity spewed forth by Mr. Persing is rooted in the realization that his well-orchestrated scheme to politicize and circumvent this process has been effectively thwarted.

Charles H. Shuey

Member

Shamokin Area School Board