Ward Brethour has been relieved of his duties as coach of Free State High's boys and girls cross country teams, and his status as the Firebirds' girls basketball coach is up in the air.
``No, I wouldn't say he's been fired,'' said Marcia Bone, the district's director of human resources. ``We've made some coaching changes.''
Brethour was replaced by assistant coach Steve Heffernan on an interim basis Wednesday.
Brethour's standing with the girls basketball team is undecided.
``At this point I couldn't answer that question,'' Bone said. ``Not everything has been finalized yet. Right now we've just made a change. At this point I'm not going to make any comment about his position. We've just made a change in the cross country coaching position.''
When reached for comment Monday night, Brethour said, ``Right now I'm not at liberty to say anything.''
Last season the girls cross country team became the first Free State squad to qualify for state, finishing fourth at the Class 5A meet. Heffernan, who coached the Firebirds last weekend at the Shawnee Heights Invitational, couldn't say for certain why he had been promoted.
``Not because I don't want to, but I wasn't told,'' Heffernan said. ``They asked me if I wanted to coach for the rest of the season and I said, `Sure.' I talked to (Brethour) about trying to make a smooth transition for the team for the rest of the season. I really haven't talked to him that much and really haven't talked to the athletic director.''
Free State principal Dr. Joe Snyder also had no comment about Brethour being relieved of his duties, except to say, ``At the present time, that is correct. I can't say any more because it is a personnel issue.''
In addition to cross country, Brethour also coached the girls basketball team, which suffered an 0-21 season last winter. If -- or when -- he will return to the cross country squad or what his status will be with the basketball team this winter has yet to be determined.
``It's a personnel issue and it came from higher up than me,'' Free State athletics director Steve Grant said. ``All I can say is Steve Heffernan has assumed the duties as head coach on an interim basis. I wasn't involved with what was going on. What little I do know, I can't even tell you that.''
-- Robert Sinclair's phone message number is 832-7185. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.