By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE June 10, 2005 Chris DePew, Sullivan County Community Colleges athletic director and head coach of the mens basketball team, is between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
For the past few days, rumors have been floating around the local community that the two-year colleges administration recently gave DePew an ultimatum: step down as AD and keep running the Generals, or give up leading the nationally-ranked hoopsters and keep the job as head of SCCCs athletic department.
Adding fuel to the rumor mill, word on the street was that a student/faculty-driven petition had been circulated calling for DePew to keep wearing both hats as the colleges athletic director and mens basketball coach. Reportedly, the petition was signed by several hundred students representing about 30 percent of the student body as well as faculty members.
DePew was contacted several times regarding the rumored situation, but steadfastly replied, No comment at this time.
Several administrators and students spoke about the unfolding situation, but only on the condition of complete anonymity.
According to these informed sources, the move to unseat DePew started at the top, even while the administration expected him to prepare a national championship basketball team for someone else to coach.
The rumored decision has a lot of folks around the county scratching their heads. Under DePews leadership, the Generals, who compiled a 27-7 record during the 2004-2005 season, have a couple of National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-Americans, expect to return of about 90 percent of the squad for the 2005-2006 season and could be ranked very high in the nation in the NJCAA Preseason Poll.
According to the jobs available posting listed by SCCCs Office of Human Resources, the handwriting appears to be on the wall. As of yesterday, the full-time position of Head Men's Basketball Coach is up for grabs.
The posting reads, in part, Pending budget approval
Reporting to the director of athletics, the head mens basketball coach is responsible for the overall operation of our nationally-ranked NJCAA Division III mens basketball program as well as supporting part-time varsity coaches and players of other varsity sports
In addition, the position of head coach for the mens basketball team is being advertised on the SCCC Web site, www.sullivan.suny.edu.
The message to DePew from the colleges administration seems pretty clear: stay on as AD, but give up coaching the Generals.
Dave Thomson, Sullivans Dean of Enrollment Management, was the only administrator willing to talk on the record about the situation.
His take on the student-driven petition and DePews rumored job switch?
Some students expressed concern over Chriss [rumored] departure from the program
it reflected some heavy concern
but I think they took it to mean total departure, which isnt true, Thomson said of the petition.
The administration subject to budget stuff is thinking about shifting over to a full-time basketball coach with responsibility for the program as well as recruitment in a variety of sports, added Thomson, who is a familiar face at SCCC home games at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse. Thats what were playing with
its not a final thing.
Currently, DePew is paid as an AD with an additional stipend to run the mens basketball program.
Chris would continue on as athletic director
I think hes done a pretty good job as athletic director, Thomson said.
Would giving up his position as basketball coach mean a pay cut for DePew?
Quite frankly, thats something were going to have to discuss, replied Thomson.
I hope I dont get fired for what Ive said so far, he added. I think its a move to expand the [athletic] program and help us out in the recruitment in other varsity sports
as a new position, it has to be evaluated.
Thomson stressed that, as of now, nothing formal has been decided.
It isnt a done deal, he said. Its not tied with a neat little bow.