Glenn Vickery’s retirement as Daphne High School’s head football coach and athletic director not only left a vacancy in the school’s highest athletic post for the first time in more than 10 years, it also sparked discussions about a recreation consultant contract the city held with Vickery and previous football coaches.
According to a document provided by the city, Daphne paid Vickery $22,000 per year to serve as a recreation consultant for its recreation department and summer athletic camps.
This week, Mayor Dane Haygood said he has presented three options for an updated contract for former University of Alabama and NFL player Kenny King, who was hired by the Baldwin County Board of Education to replace Vickery.
Haygood said it is important King — and any future football coaches — participate in the city’s summer recreation programs and youth football league.
“I think we need to have discussions about making sure the coach has an active role in the city and the youth football league,” Haygood said. “Certainly our youth sports leagues are a good way to create a sense of identity and uniformity with the younger players up to the high school level. There is value in that.”
Haygood said he has presented three conceptual contracts for the Daphne City Council to choose from. One version uses Vickery’s contract as the basis but includes additional duties and services provided to the city. A second version is performance based, with a base salary and incentive pay if the coach wins championships or brings in additional revenue through home games and playoffs. A third option lowered the base salary but has more incentives.
“These concepts have been presented to the council as a starting point,” Haygood said. “I have no idea which way the council will go with it. These are just templates, so the council could pick and choose what they might want and put together something they can all agree on.”
While he acknowledged the difficulty of assigning a monetary value to the work the coaches may do for the city, Haygood said he hopes the new contract will better explain exactly what benefits the city will get for its money.
“I think Coach King brings some unique skill sets to the table that could help our recreation programs,” Haygood said. “I know he is an accomplished graphic designer who might be able to help with branding for our recreation department as well. Whatever happened in the past, it is always good to re-evaluate things when you have a change in leadership.”
Councilman Randy Fry, chair of the Finance Committee, said he anticipates a proposed contract to come before the committee at its April meeting. Following a review by the committee, Fry said, the proposal would then go before the City Council for approval.
Fry said previously Daphne High School’s head coach and athletic director received a salary from the city, while the school’s football assistants were paid hourly for the work they performed at summer camps.
“There was a contract paid to the previous head coach where he and his assistant coaches basically ran our summer recreation programs,” Fry said. “I think it worked well. We’ve been able to attract good people here and I think it is important for them to be connected to the community. We have a strong sense of community in Daphne and it is important for people to rally around the school.”
Still, some council members are worried the potential contract would send the wrong message.
“With bonuses and everything else, the coach could make $30,000,” Councilman John Lake said. “That’s a year’s salary for a lot of people. And we are offering that while at the same time raising fees in the city and discussing cutting benefits for some of our people.”
Regardless, the contract must come before the Daphne City Council for approval at a future meeting. Lake said he wishes the council had the opportunity to vet the coach or the contract before it was released to the public. He said in the past the City Council held informal interviews with coaches at work sessions and public meetings before a city contract was offered.
Lake acknowledged that the previous contracts provided a benefit to the city, but he worried the new contract won’t have the same teeth to make sure the coach stays involved with the community.
“When Coach [Steve] Savarese was here, he did some good work consulting us on ways we could improve our recreation programs,” Lake said. “We got something helpful and good for the money. The same thing happened with Vickery. He consulted our recreation programs and held summer camps for the city’s kids. But I’m not sure there’s any kind of requirement for that in what has been proposed.”
Daphne is not the only city in Baldwin County to offer consulting contracts to high school football coaches.
In neighboring Spanish Fort, Mayor Mike McMillan said the city pays Spanish Fort High School head football coach and athletic director Ben Blackmon a $20,000 annual salary to oversee the city’s youth sports leagues and summer camps. Blackmon also consults with the city on its plans for future athletic facilities.
According to Baldwin County school system spokesman Terry Wilhite, Vickery received an annual $80,933 salary, while King will be paid $58,595 per year. Both salaries include a $9,935 coaching supplement.
Vickery retired in January in the midst of a Baldwin County Board of Education human resources review, the results of which the school system has not made public.
“Human Resources reviews don’t last any longer than is necessary to be thorough, and in this case the review lasted just a few days,” Wilhite said. “The reason results of an HR review are not released is because an employee has due-process rights. This HR review is in the past.”