A respected longtime football coach is suddenly and summarily dismissed, the reasons kept secret.
He is a public figure who works for a non-public employer.
His dismissal is a personnel issue surrounded by public clamor to find out why.
The dilemma facing Bishop Luers High School and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese is complex. As a private sector employer, Bishop Luers is carefully exhibiting discretion in discussing the actions and apparent wrongdoing of an employee, just as most private employers do regarding personnel issues.
As a public figure, recently fired football coach and athletic director Matt Lindsay is the subject of the kind of rumors and speculation that many would like to see put to rest by full disclosure from the school. In such cases, the reality is often not as bad as the speculation.
The Catholic Church’s disappointing record of covering up wrongdoing does not help. Adding to all the intrigue is the revelation earlier this year that another local Catholic schoolteacher was fired for daring to undergo in vitro fertilization to conceive a baby. Was Lindsay dismissed for religious reasons? For behavior?
Did Lindsay and the diocese reach some agreement that includes a vow of silence on both sides? Such a non-disclosure agreement is typical in any type of settlement.
The public is left wondering and wanting information.
Last week, Lindsay said he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons.
Just days later, the school said it fired Lindsay for violating his contract and school policies. This gives the impression that the school and diocese decided to set the record straight rather than simply allow Lindsay to walk away.
This is a tough balancing act. It isn’t the school’s role to satisfy the public interest in what may or may not be a scandal. Releasing personnel information can result in legal liability in certain circumstances.
As much as the Luers community and the city in general would like to know what happened, right or wrong, the decision rests with the school and Lindsay.