Stanford Hill's glory days as a Dallas ISD basketball coach are now officially behind him. After winning a state title with Roosevelt in 2006, he moved to Skyline. During his tenure the team sunk from near dominance to mediocrity, posting a losing record in the 2012-13 season and barely sneaking into the playoffs. Following the season, Hill was stripped of his coaching job and transferred to another DISD school, where he currently teaches.
Hill has his suspicions about why he was fired, and they have nothing to do with his team's performance. As he told WFAA's Brett Shipp for a story that aired last night, he claims he was canned for refusing to play the son of Skyline Principal Harold Wright.
As evidence, he provides a series of text messages from Wright during the past seasons:
I hope you understand that we just want him to be pleased about his game. We are fanatics like other parents. He wants to play D1 so we gotta help him get better
Sometimes, the messages were more direct, like this one he received from Wright after a loss:
I'm not pleased.
And these received after a loss to J.J. Pearce:
Did [my son] do something wrong not to start? He played 6 minutes total
My wife is waiting to see you.
"I felt like I had to go out and meet with his wife because he's the principal, and I felt like if I didn't go out and meet with his wife at that particular time then I would probably lose my job the next day," Hill told Shipp.
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The evidence Hill presented as part of DISD's grievance process, which you can read here courtesy of a website called The Watchful Eye, is a bit more ambiguous. It shows that Wright and Hill texted frequently about the son's play, which is odd, but none of the texts are particularly threatening. Two messages from Wright that read as ominous -- one warning that Superintendent Mike Miles will not look kindly on a parent complaint against a basketball coach, and the one urging Hill to talk with Wright's wife -- are written from Hill's own email account.
And then there are documents from Hill's personnel file, which Unfair Park obtained recently through an open records request. They include affidavits from two of Hill's assistant coaches describing Hill as a poor leader, lax disciplinarian, and someone who lacks the gravitas to be a head coach. Players would show up late to practice or skip it altogether yet still be allowed to play in games. They would talk back to coaches with impunity. He was aloof and unfocused.
It's entirely possible that the assistants' recollections were helped along by Wright, or that they had their eyes on Hill's job. Nevertheless, Hill's argument was dismissed at three levels of DISD grievance hearings.
Hill tells Shipp that he's staying in shape in hopes that the book hasn't completely closed on his 29-year coaching career, but he's not entirely optimistic. He says athletic department officials told him that filing a complaint against a principal meant he'd never be allowed courtside again.