Banks: Arundel threw curve on softball


There's something to be said for the job Don Banks did as softball coach at Arundel High, but there is also something to be said against his performance.

After five years on the job, Banks did not have his contract renewed by Arundel principal Kenneth Catlin. The job was advertised, and former Severna Park High coach Paul Yannuzzi was hired as the new coach.

Banks was one of just 16 black varsity head coaches among 210 head varsity coaches in Anne Arundel County public schools, but in a six-page letter and hourlong interview he didn't point to race as the primary issue for his not being retained.

Banks, who says he "can't sleep over this," emphasized politics and blames athletic director Bernie Walter.

"I was told I was not the best candidate for the job and, No. 2, I wasn't a teacher at Arundel Senior High," said Banks, who is an art teacher at neighboring Arundel Middle.

"I don't care if they added 133 new teachers. You don't stop a successful program, which I built from scratch in five years. I have turned the softball program around in four years.

"So, why am I fired?"

Upon a suggestion by Walter to have as many on-faculty coaches as possible, Catlin opened up Banks' position along with others.

Arundel has added 33 teachers in the past two years. Walter said, "We wanted to get them more involved in our extracurricular program."

After the interview process, Banks was one of seven coaches, but the only head coach, not retained.

Yannuzzi, Arundel High's science department chairman, applied for the softball and girls soccer coaching positions and landed both.

"The primary reason Don was not selected was because he is not a teacher on staff, but in a meeting I had with him last week I told him we still had four to five coaching positions still open," said Catlin.

"I left it open to him to apply, but he hasn't gotten back to me."

One of the open positions is JV softball coach, but Banks said, "I wasn't even asked to be an assistant softball coach. Apparently they just wanted me out of the program so they came up with this teaching on campus thing, which is a joke."

Catlin said that Yannuzzi would not have a problem with Banks as JV coach.

Banks also lost his co-coaching position with the JV girls basketball team. He shared a contract with Gerry Quickel last year, and they led the girls to an 18-1 record, but Quickel will be the head coach this year.

"In talking with our head girls basketball coach [Lee Rogers], he said it was not in the best interests of the program to have them share the position," said Catlin.

"So, with Gerry on our staff, we made him head JV coach. Being in the school, Gerry did most of the work, so it was practical to make him head JV coach."

Banks took his grievance to the Board of Education for a hearing.

"I could have won the championship on the moon, and it wouldn't have made a difference," Banks said.

"Nobody wants to talk about my stats as a coach because it goes against everything they are saying about me."

Banks' five-year record as softball coach is 40-48, but the team made the Class 4A playoffs the past two seasons. Only state 4A champion Chesapeake can say as much.

Yannuzzi was 76-37 (.672), including a state title in 1987, in his six years as head coach at Severna Park.

"It's very simple: Bernie wanted Yannuzzi in and me out," Banks said. "It's politics, and I'm the victim."

Walter said that's not the case and that "it was a question of commitment" with Banks who missed two games last spring, including a region playoff game with eventual state champion Chesapeake, which the Wildcats lost, 3-1.

"I had a problem with my back and missed a regular-season game because of it," Banks said.

"The playoff game was originally scheduled for Thursday, but moved to Friday because of the weather and I had airline tickets for a family trip to New Orleans for Friday.

"My [players] were prepared and really didn't need me there because my assistant knew what to do."

Banks didn't help himself by missing the playoff game.

In his letter, Banks wrote that "someone has to put a stop to this mess." If he took that JV softball position, he could do just that. Banks is understandably upset, really does care and could erase any doubts about his commitment by taking another position.

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