Johnny O goes one-on-one with Coach K

Posted by Andy Durham on June 16, 2009 at 12:18 pm under High School | 15 Comments to Read

Northern Wants State Title back
Stan Kowalewski speaks his side of the story

By John Olszewski(Sports Carolina Monthly)
SCM available at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Logans, Proehlific Park, car dealers, JP Looneys, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority…..To name a few drop-off spots. Its in over 400 locations in the Triad.

Most of the Triad knows all about the investigation of the Northern Guilford high school sports eligibility probe executed by the Guilford County Schools Administration. For the past several weeks it has been front page news and it has been the talk of the area. Much of talk has been all the wrongdoings of the schools sports programs that have led to the resignation of the schools Principal and Athletic director. Former Northern Guilford basketball coach Stan Kowalewski (who led his team to a State championship this past year) has been the centerpiece of the probe and I wanted to give Stan a chance to tell his side of the story.

John O.-Let the Triad know your side of the much publicized sports scandal at Northern Guilford High School and your dealings with the Guilford County School administration.

Stan-The situation at Northern Guilford has been properly characterized as a “witchhunt” from Day One.  The problems began with untrue and unfounded allegations of recruiting by John Hughes and Angelo Kidd at Northwest Guilford and those allegations were supported by our school board member, Darlene Garrett.  I have never spoken or met Darlene Garrett in my life, but she took it upon herself to attack Northern Guilford athletics and specifically my boys’ basketball program.  I found that to be incredible being that Mrs. Garrett is supposed to be Northern Guilford’s school board representative and the school’s advocate.  The unfounded allegations continued and the gossip and rumors from jealous coaches in Guilford County fueled the fire that led to two separate investigations of the basketball team.  Guilford County Schools has admitted to me that they have found no evidence of recruiting on my part or that I knew that we had “ineligible” players.  The investigation has now lasted more than 8 months and has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I believe that the school system was under incredible pressure to find something and what they “found” was ineligible players—two of whom were my players who I personally took home on different occasions and I know lived in our district.  The County is basing its findings on change of address of voter registration cards which to me seems to be very flimsy at best. 
 
Another interesting fact is that earlier in the spring it was reported that Page High School used an ineligible player during football season due to residency issues which is the same issue as the “ineligible” players at Northern.  Page reported this infraction to the NCHSAA on March 12th and a ruling was handed down on April 14th.  That is more than a month to rule on one sport and one player.  Guilford County Schools reported Northern Guilford’s infractions on the morning of May 12th and the NCHSAA made their ruling to impose penalties on the afternoon of the same day, May 12th.  The Northern case involved five athletes and several sports and it only took a few hours to make a ruling?  That tells me that Guilford County Schools recommended a punishment and that the NCHSAA just “rubber stamped” it.  Additionally, Page was not forced to forfeit any games and only the player was penalized, but in Northern’s case both the players and the teams were penalized.  I don’t think that the punishment fits the violation and any objective outsider looking in has raised this question as well.  Many people have come up to me and compared the Northern Guilford situation with the Duke Lacrosse scandal and although there are some obvious differences, the general similarity is that ‘due process” was never given in either case and that kids were guilty until proven innocent.
 
I am confident that once an objective and fair person such as Alan Duncan or Amos Quick, on the Board of Education, or a judge, or jury get a chance to examine this “evidence” that my players’ eligibility will be restored and the state championship will be returned to Northern Guilford.  I would also like the NCHSAA to re-visit this issue and open its own investigation to find the truth and correct mistakes.  Our players and the student body of Northern Guilford deserve better than the representation they have received and I hope that in the end they get to enjoy the reward that they earned.

John O.-How has all this negative publicity to this point affected you and your family?

Stan-I consider myself to be a pretty resilient person, but this has certainly taken a toll on my family.  I took the job at Northern Guilford with the plan to coach my own sons at the school years from now, and that dream has been taken away.  I certainly appreciate the support from the Northern Guilford community towards my family and I, as well as the tremendous outpouring of support from coaches across the country.  In times like these, you certainly find out who your true friends are and I am grateful that I have many that have supported me.  Most importantly, I want to thank my wife for not only supporting me during this time, but also always being there to support my basketball coaching career at every turn.

John O.-Do you believe you and your team will get the much deserved State title back?

Stan-I truly believe that we will get the title back and our kids deserve it.  No one in this county outside of the Northern Guilford community wants to give our kids any credit for out-working the rest of the state.  It is shameful that adults are so willing to bad-mouth teenagers who are only guilty of working hard and achieving goals.  As I mentioned earlier, I believe that an objective judge, board, arbitrator or jury will reverse this injustice that has been done to our kids.

John O.-What have you learned from all this as far as how our school system is run and what the future holds for Guilford County Public schools?

Stan-I have learned that you can’t win a political fight no matter how much good you do for kids and help them to reach your goals.  We built a strong program that focused on academics first, being a good citizen second and finally working to be a great basketball team.  To me and many others, that should be an asset to any school system, but here it was viewed as a liability that needed to end.  I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed working with great people at High Point Central and Northern Guilford.  Principals Revonda Johnson and Joe Yeager truly put the students first in all aspects of the schools they run and Derrell Force is the hardest working Athletic Director I have ever encountered.  Those three were supported by strong administrative staff at their schools as well great faculty and that is what made those two schools great.  I have a lot of fond memories of both schools and they will be cherished forever by my family and I.

John O-Have you lost any respect for any coaches in the area that have basically thrown you under the bus without actual evidence of any wrongdoings?

Stan-I think that respect is earned and those high school and college coaches across the state and country, who know me and the type of program that my staff and I operate, know that we are in it for the kids and to help them succeed in life.  People like to talk about the “scandal” at Northern Guilford, but how about the scandal that involves high school coaches in Guilford County Schools not working to insure that all of their players take care of their academics and have an opportunity to go to college.  I take tremendous pride that almost all of my players that I have coached are either in or have graduated from college and that only a small number of them actually played basketball in college.  Parents and players want to play for coaches that do what’s best for them and that’s why parents move to districts in order to play a particular sport.  If coaches ran programs like we did at Northern, they would never have to worry about their kids leaving to play for another school.  It is ironic to me that many of the coaches, whose derogatory e-mails towards me have been made public, have put on a good show about being friends with me….. Until I turn my back and then you get stabbed.  I had very little respect for those coaches, that made derogatory comments and unfounded allegations against me, prior to those things coming to light and now I have none.  If coaches in this county spent less time complaining and being jealous of coaching staffs like ours, and more time developing their players, then everyone would be a lot more successful.  Jealousy and ignorance are a bad combination and nothing good comes from either.  People will learn the hard way that you can’t make false accusations about others in a public forum as there are laws that protect people from that.

John O-What are your plans now that you are no longer Northern Guilford basketball coach and what kind of contact and relationships will you continue to have with your former players and parents that have rallied behind you and have such a great relationship and respect for you?

Stan-I have continued to stay in close contact with the players and parents and we have tried our best, from afar, to encourage the players to finish up the school year strong.  In addition, we have been working out the players privately and are trying to get them ready for the summer.  I will be taking all of the Northern players to events in Charlotte and Orlando in July so that they can gain exposure in front of college coaches.  We have a lot of rising seniors and this is an important summer for them as they begin to make their college choices.  My focus the last two months has been entirely on these kids and making sure that they have support.  At some point soon, I will consider my coaching options and will make one more stop on the coaching journey.  I thought that Northern Guilford would be where I retired from coaching, but that is not to be, so I will find one more home and continue to work to help kids achieve their goals.


  • thankful said,

    Thanks for printing the one-on-one with Coach K on this site. It was good to hear (read) his side. I surely hope he continues coaching! Wish him all the best.

  • a little confused said,

    I am a little confused. It is my understanding that Coach K. has announced that he is the new basketball coach at Oak Ridge Military Academy, even announcing it at one of his AAU practices this past weekend. According to the newspaper article this morning in the Greensboro Paper about Oak Ridge Military Academy, this does not appear to be the case at all. What gives?

  • Andy said,

    It has not been confirmed through any sources that Coach K has taken the job at Oak Ridge. There a quite a few things still on the table from what we are hearing.

  • a little confused said,

    I realize it was not confirmed by other sources. That is pretty clear now from this article and it is clear there are many things on the table including the fact that the school could conceivably be closed in a few weeks. Why I was confused is because he has been telling people that he is the coach there and even announced it at his AAU practice Friday.

  • not a jealous coach said,

    Read this Stan:

    “Great players make great coaches.”

  • Andy said,

    We had it here that ORMA was not confirmed for Coach K, N&R had the same thing…

    Why would Coach K be telling his players that when is is unconfirmed? Something smells rotten in Denmark. Do you think that’s Coach K talking or maybe just one of his players putting that word out there.

  • little confused said,

    Heard from a parent who was at the AAU practice at when he said it. Also talked to somone else who said he heard it directly from Coach K. So I think he is or at least was telling people he had been offered and accepted the position.

  • Trapper said,

    Coach Kowalewski will coach again, he’ll win another state championship and he will make all of you at this site look like fools.

    K’s a winner and they can never take that away and the rest of you just wish you could be like him.

    Every kid he coaches will end up getting a college scholarship and how many other coaches can say that.

    There are some things money can’t buy and Stan already has it. He’s a proven winner and the kids will follow him everywhere he goes.

  • not a jealous coach said,

    Trapper says:
    He’s a proven winner and the kids will follow him everywhere he goes.

    Like it’s been said before in the coaching profession, “Great players make great coaches.”

    Stan is a legend in his own mind. Sure, he can win with HIS talented, hand-picked AAU players, pay their way to tournaments all over the country, offer them a cheap rental home in his district, buy them purple clothes and rings and such. Sure, they’ll follow him everywhere he goes…why wouldn’t they?

    The other truly GREAT coaches all over this county, state and nation coach for the love of the game, win OR lose. They take whatever players walk onto the field or court on day one, teach them the fundamentals and to give 110% effort, regardless of their natural talent or ability. The GREAT coaches can find a way to motivate each individual to give that best effort, and teach that a team is only as strong as their weakest link. Winning with that team is the goal, but the GREAT coaches know that even in losing, kids learn life lessons about overcoming adversity and perseverance that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. If one or more of our players earns a college scholarship, that’s a reward for their high character and hard work combined with their exceptional natural talent.

    Stan, sorry to break it to you, but the high school coaches around here are not jealous of you…we actually pity our profession that you call yourself a “coach” in NC high schools. You’ve never been a member of the NC Coaches Association, and I know they just shake their heads at the mention of your name.

    So Stan, just stick with your AAU mob and you guys can play with your superstars and get all of them their college scholarships without our help. Have fun in Orlando.

  • a little confused said,

    I don’t have a particular beef with this coach. I question some of the financial dealings and how he handled himself in the media and some of the things he has said. I think for AAU he is perfect. I have no problem with him coaching AAU and in fact he is probably an outstanding AAU coach. I just think it appears that based on what high school/interscholastic athletics is supposed to be about and what its mission is, he is not a very good fit for that at all. However, I fully support him as an AAU coach and hope he continues doing that.

  • bballmom said,

    Not A Jealous Coach,
    Just because children follow Stan, doesn’t mean that he can’t coach all kids.

    My son played a long time ago for Stan for one year. My kid has played basketball at all levels from Rec to schoo to AAU (never at Northern), soccer at all levels from rec to school to classic, and baseball from rec to school to AAU. Needless to say he has many coaches. With on exception, Stan was the best coach my son has ever had. And Stan never paid anything for us, nor did we need him to.

    Stan is a great coach. Just because he gives lot of money to the program, doesn’t prove he is not. And no one has ever proven that he pays for rental houses for those kids. And God knows they have tried to prove it.

  • uh? said,

    Andy,

    I know that you are just posting this, but I have a question about one of his comments…

    “People will learn the hard way that you can’t make false accusations about others in a public forum as there are laws that protect people from that.” <—-from Stan

    Now, according to Stan and in other public forums and articles, he has said that he was fired from Bishop McGuiness because the administrators there said he was bringing in too many blacks…Now, the administrators flat out say that he is lying with this statement…My question is, If Stan is so quick to fire back on defamation law suits and slandering, why wouldn’t the administrators file their own suit for trying to ruin the reputation of them? I mean if Stan is really lying, then why not return the favor?

  • Andy said,

    I think you could see counter-suits, but they probably would be between Stan and Guilford County before all of this is said and done….

  • eddie willis said,

    where are the questions about nwg?—–that situation stinks to the high heavens!
    ew

  • whatever said,

    uh? I know several folks at Bishop McGuinness High School including a couple higher up staff and parents. They never gave Stan an official reason for his firing and they were not required to do so. Whatever he says is his own conjecture. Did they receive constant complaints from other coaches of his recruiting? All the time, but I think it was a lot of other things that lead to his firing and one major thing which necessitated it shortly before the season. He kept threatening to sue them when he was fired, and I know a few of the folks there were begging for him to do so in order to be able to release some information on him. What Stan is saying is a bold face lie and the conversation never happened, but they had a hard time deciding whether to be angry or just laugh. Those folks simply don’t care about him enough any more to bother with him. They are apparently consulting with top levels to see about how or if they should bother responding to what he said in the paper. I know they likely won’t because they figure everyone thinks he is such a clown that nobody believes much of what he says in the media anyway. At the time he was fired, the president of the Bishop School Board was black and the current president of the Bishop school board is also black and both were/are apparently parents of Bishop students, so the whole idea of bringing in black students was silly. The school now has more black students than they have had in many years. Apparently, a few play football but most do not play sports. I don’t know if we will see a response from the school, but I imagine not. I would still like to know the reason for his firing from the investment firm in the article that was linked on here a while back. That would be more interesting.