Phila. School District dismisses athletic department chief

There has been a major shake-up in the leadership of the Philadelphia School District's athletic department.

Cheryl Logan, the school district's chief academic support officer, said Wednesday in an email to athletic directors that Robert Coleman, the executive director of athletics, and two assistants had been relieved of their duties.

Logan wrote in the email, "The following individuals will no longer conduct business on behalf of the Office of Athletics for the School District of Philadelphia: Mr. Robert Coleman, Ms. Starr Davenport, and Mrs. Angela White."

The reason for the terminations was not disclosed. Coleman's cellphone was turned off and he could not be reached for comment.

"I'm very close with Robert," South Philadelphia High athletic director and football coach Frank "Roscoe" Natale said. "I'm really surprised by this. I'm as shocked as everybody else."

Coleman, a former football assistant at Germantown High, has also served as the District 12 chairman of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Philadelphia public schools officially joined the PIAA in the 2004-05 school year.

Even though Coleman has been relieved of his duties with the school district, Robert Lombardi, executive director of the PIAA, said he may be permitted to continue as District 12 chairman through June 30.

"The District 12 committee members will make that decision, probably at their next meeting," Lombardi said. "There's a provision in our constitution that allows each district to be autonomous when it comes to providing us with a representative."

Mike Hawkins, formerly the athletic director and head football coach at Germantown, is District 12's vice chairman.

Archbishop Wood athletic director Joe Sette worked under Coleman in scheduling sites and times for boys' and girls' basketball playoff games involving District 12 teams.

"I certainly appreciated the confidence he showed in me to be part of that process," Sette said. "Our relationship was always positive. He was always good and fair to the Catholic League."

Logan said in her email that Bettyann Creighton, a longtime school district employee, has assumed the role of interim executive director of athletics.

Creighton has been the district's executive director of health, safety, nutrition, and physical education.

"She's a great person," Natale said. "But I don't know what's going to happen from here. There's a lot of uncertainty. I don't even want to think about it."

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