First-year North Central baseball coach Steve Swinson resigned from his position on Friday just under a month after being hired amid allegations of racism against him in his post as the Defiance College head wrestling coach, North Central Athletic Director Michael Babin told The Bryan Times in a phone interview Friday.
Swinson was hired to helm North Central's baseball program during the North Central Board of Education's monthly meeting on Feb. 21 to replace 13-year coach Eric Smeltzer. Smeltzer, who collected a 147-158 career record in his tenure, is North Central's district treasurer and was reprimanded in January for “violation of another employee’s privacy and work space" according to an official reprimand letter and removed as the varsity baseball coach.
Babin said assistant coach Josh Hicks will take over as interim head coach.
In promoting Hicks, junior varsity coach Sam Pettit has been moved to interim varsity assistant. Babin said North Central will be looking to fill the full-time head coach position or junior varsity opening.
"Josh has been a part of the program for a couple years now. I have full faith that he's going to take this situation and do what's best for the kids — which myself, Mr. (Gregory) Puthoff (North Central High School principal) and Mr. (Michael) Bute (North Central superintendent), that's our goal, too, is what's best for the kids," Babin said.
"I think he'll handle it. It's a situation nobody wants and he's going to do the best that he can for a successful baseball season for our kids," he added
Babin said the administration informed the players of the resignation and Hicks' hiring Friday afternoon. Most of the players were part of last year's team, which went 14-7 overall and a perfect 7-0 in the Buckeye Border Conference for its first conference title since 2014.
North Central's baseball team is scheduled to start its season against non-conference foe Liberty Center in a doubleheader on March 25 at the Tigers' Spring Sports Complex.
"They were not happy. It's their (third) coach in two months," Babin said. "But we had a couple of the senior leaders and junior kids, they still have the goal of winning the BBC this year and that's something that they're focused on.
"We're still here, we're still going to have a baseball program and we're still chasing a BBC title — and obviously, further than that," he said.
This all comes after Swinson was accused Wednesday of making a racist comment toward another school's wrestling coach in February.
In a press release from Defiance College on March 10, the college stated that, "On February 1, 2023, the College was notified that a coach made a racially insensitive comment in the presence of other Defiance College employees. The comment was not made in front of students, and the College followed its policies and procedures to take appropriate action."
Swinson is not expected to be dismissed from Defiance College at this time.
The alleged racist comment by Swinson was made to assistant coach Rudy Corpus in regard to Rob Watson-Powell, an African-American wrestling coach for Muskingum University, at a tournament where Muskingum's team was using Defiance's bus to go to and from its hotel.
In an interview conducted by WTOL 11, Corpus stated Swinson and Watson-Powell "butted heads" over the scenario, which led to Swinson stating to Corpus — as paraphrased by Corpus in the interview — that, "this doesn't surprise me because that's how all of those Black people are."
"As an educational institution, our goal is to educate and help people learn and grow from their mistakes," Defiance College stated later in its press release. "Thus, per our policy, the conduct is being addressed through education and informal means to work with the team individually and collectively to rebuild relationships that have been hurt as a result of the comment made by the coach."
Nine Defiance College wrestlers have entered into the transfer portal and Corpus has submitted his resignation Tuesday, effective immediately.
Swinson did not return a call seeking comment from The Bryan Times.
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