Canon-McMillan football players and parents erupted in anger Thursday night after the school board voted 5-4 to initiate a formal disciplinary process regarding suspended head football coach Mike Evans.
Evans has been on paid leave since an Aug. 30 loss to Mt. Lebanon High School, during which he allegedly knocked over a large cooler that contained beverages.
About 100 players and parents crowded into the administration building in support of their head coach, who they want to be reinstated.
“Let’s talk about the boys,” said parent Stacey Rancher. “We’re talking about a group of boys without their leader, without their coach, and they have no idea what their future is going to hold right now...they are the only real victims now.”
Senior Jonathan Quinque was nearly in tears as he voiced support for Evans.
“These last couple of weeks without our head coach have just killed me. I love the game, I love playing for Canon-McMillan. It’s just not the same without Coach Evans,” said Quinque. “He’s the team’s heart and soul. He’s made me the player I am and the person I am today. We need and want our head coach.”
Teammate Colton Irwin echoed Quinque’s words.
“He’s pushed us to reach our greatest potential and continuously motivates us to keep striving for our goals,” said Irwin.
Other team members and parents said Evans often went above and beyond for his players, including helping them obtain football scholarships, driving them home after practices, buying them dinner, counseling a former player who contemplated suicide and helping another player who became a father during his senior year of high school enroll in college and become a football coach on Canon-McMillan’s staff.
“I’m in full support of Coach Evans because he’s always been in full support of me. I don’t even know why we’re here,” said Mike Kessler, the former player who Evans helped get into Robert Morris University and invited to join his coaching staff.
Players and parents continued on, saying Evans has been a mentor, and instrumental in helping several students earn scholarships to play in college.
Solicitor Jocelyn Kramer said the next step in the process is a due process hearing, where Evans will have an opportunity to provide the board with information on his behalf.
“That’s the next step, if it gets to that,” said Kramer. “We’re doing the best we can to expedite this. This board is willing to call a special meeting, to hold a hearing whenever it is convenient for the employee in order to move forward as fast as possible, understanding what is at stake. (The board) heard from the public and the community, and they’re taking all of that into consideration as they move forward in the process.”
Evans’s attorney, Lane Turturice, met with the school board following the meeting to determine what happens next.
Meanwhile, players prepare for their game tonight against Hempfield Area High School without Evans.
Said Patricia Quinque, Jonathan’s mother, “The board didn’t even listen to these kids tonight.”