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Homestead tennis coach in dark on reasons for dismissal

Although the specific reason may never be known, the fact is veteran coach Jim Shull is out as the girls and boys tennis coach at Homestead.

Shull said by phone Tuesday he was told at a meeting in March with principal Park Ginder and athletic director Joe Updegrove, two days after practice began for the girls tennis season, that this past year would be his last with either program.

“I have never been told by the principal, the athletic director or the superintendent (Steve Yager) why I was fired,” Shull said. “They apparently have no intention of telling me.

“I also believe the principal and athletic director did not initiate this. The superintendent has done this, and he is not going to tell me why.”

Shull has been the Spartans’ girls tennis coach since 1987 and the boys tennis coach for the past four years, taking over when the late Jim Clark stepped down. Shull was also an assistant boys coach for 23 years.

He said his coaching contract that ran through the end of the school year was not renewed.

“They technically didn’t rehire me,” Shull said. “After 52 or so (combined boys and girls) seasons of being rehired automatically, it came as a shock that they weren’t going to rehire me.

“The principal and athletic director said to me that I did nothing wrong, but you are never going to know why. What is a person supposed to do with that?”

In a text message, Updegrove confirmed Shull was no longer the boys and girls tennis coach at the school but offered no reason.

Shull said he has a theory why his contract wasn’t renewed but will not make it public.

Shull, 69, retired as a biology teacher at Homestead last year and said he couldn’t envision coaching tennis anywhere but at Homestead.

“It’s very sad for me,” Shull said.

“I just have to live with the fact that officially I will never be told.”

Shull has 420 career wins coaching the girls, which is the third most in state history, according to the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association. He has 12 semistate titles for the girls, but no state championships.

Homestead leads the state with 15 semistate titles.

Yager is retiring June 30 and will be replaced by associate superintendent Phil Downs.

“We don’t comment on personnel matters,” Downs said at Tuesday’s Southwest Allen County Schools board meeting.

The Journal Gazette’s Julie Crothers contributed to this report.