Vin Baker Competing For Varsity Coaching Job
From The Day (Conn.)
This just in: School systems, in the business of teaching lessons, ought to remember that teaching outside of the classroom counts, too.
Such is the case in Old Saybrook, where the intoxication of celebrity may trump doing what's right.
Here is the two-minute-drill version: The varsity boys' basketball coaching position at the high school is open. Old Saybrook High social studies teacher Tim Arsenault, a Ledyard native, has applied for the job. Arsenault, an assistant at St. Bernard with significant coaching experience, is more than qualified for the job. This is where it should end. Qualified guy, already in the system.
Except that Arsenault, according to several sources in the school system, has some competition. His name is Vin Baker, the Old Saybrook native, who played in the NBA.
The sources were unanimous in their belief that the teachers and students believe it should be Arsenault's job. Other town officials, however, are obsessed with hiring Baker.
Nothing should make parents, teachers and kids lose their sunny dispositions faster than stories like this. But it happens all the time. A few officials presume they know more than the masses. And for what? So they can hobnob with a former NBA player? Or stand around the hors d'oeuvre table at the next cocktail party and talk about their good friend Vinny?
Or do they hire him because they can?
Makes you wonder what lessons they'd be giving the children of Old Saybrook: That a loyal teacher who pays his dues and whose only knock is that he's not famous ultimately gets trampled because the decision makers are starstruck? That the achievement of celebrity is the great deodorant, masking whatever transgressions might have already occurred?
Refer to the original premise: School systems should teach outside the classroom, too.
I understand Baker attended Old Saybrook High and grew up in the town. I understand he has given money to the high school. (Sure hope that's not a factor.) But I also understand that Baker's past - issues with alcohol that imperiled his pro career have been well documented - at least calls into question whether he should be coaching high school kids.
Fair question, no?
This does not say Baker should be a pariah. We are a country of second chances. But there are hundreds of jobs out there for a man with Baker's contacts. Why would he - and why should he - get preferred treatment here?
Tim Arsenault is never going to have Baker's basketball background. But he grew up in a coaching household - his father, Bob, was a well-respected coach at Ledyard - and he's coached enough basketball to know that "one-and-one" is a free throw and not "two."
Arsenault knows the dramatis personae as a teacher in the school. If there is an academic issue, he's already interacting with his players' other teachers. He's already there in case of disciplinary issues. He's just didn't play for the Celtics.
Those of you familiar with vacant coaching positions in school systems know the politics. Half the time the most qualified person is outside the system but can't be hired because some schmo inside the system wants the job. And the schmo gets it, per the rules of the system. This is one of those rare cases when the best fit comes right inside the high school. And still, potential politics hover like cigarette smoke at the casino.
This is where the people of Old Saybrook need to be heard. This isn't just a basketball decision. This is about doing what's right. Let them all know you are watching and expect the correct decision is made. This is Arsenault's job. Period.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.