Mark Frye, whose contract as Meade football coach was not renewed for this season, filed a claim yesterday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging discrimination.
Kenny Gray, a 34-year-old African-American graduate of Meade who served as an assistant to Frye last season, was named head coach by outgoing principal George Kispert (now at Northeast) despite the recommendation of a special interview committee. By a 3-2 vote, the panel recommended Frye, who is white.
"The decision not to rehire Mark was based purely on racial grounds," said Tom McCarthy, Frye's attorney. "Mark is seeking the right to sue the Anne Arundel County Board of Education."
County athetics coordinator Marlene Kelly, who was a member of the interview committee, disagreed.
"I thought Mr. Kispert handled the interview of each candidate equally," she said. "In my opinion, the committee was pretty diversified."
As an emergency coach, the 44-year-old Frye, a non-teacher, was forced to reapply for his position last May after coaching the Mustangs for two seasons and going 12-8 overall. Gray, who is a personal trainer and not a teacher, applied along with former coach Hayse Henderson.
Henderson, who is a black teacher at Meade, lost a race discrimination suit over the hiring of Frye in 1997 in a Baltimore U.S. District Court, a couple of weeks before Gray was named.
Henderson, who was 8-22 from 1990 to 1992, was fired and replaced by Jerry Hartman, who resigned after four seasons (19-24). Frye succeeded Hartman.
In the papers filed yesterday with the Maryland Commission on Human Relations and the EEOC, Frye said he has "superior qualifications, whereas Kenny Gray does not possess the same qualifications that are needed. "
Frye had previously been an assistant to Henderson at Meade, and was Severna Park JV coach for several years, in addition to more than 10 years coaching youth football.
This is Gray's first head-coaching opportunity. The Mustangs are 0-5 this season and have been outscored 63-167.
The EEOC will conduct an investigation into the matter, and if probable discrimination is determined, the board of education can be sued. The process could take months, McCarthy said.
Early volleyball showdown
No. 3-ranked Dulaney (6-0) of Baltimore County meets No. 4 Severna Park (3-2) in a match at 5: 15 p.m. tomorrow, bringing together the two area powers for the first time in the regular season.
The two have dominated their respective counties, particularly during the '90s. Each has frequented the Class 4A state tournament, but they haven't met since 1979 in the state semifinals, with Severna Park winning before bowing to High Point of Prince George's County in the final.
Last season, Severna Park and Dulaney advanced to the state semis, but hopes of a showdown between them were ended by Walt Whitman of Montgomery County, which swept Dulaney in three games, while Severna Park was besting Bowie of Prince George's in three. Whitman then swept Severna Park to win the title.
"We've kind of dodged each other over the years, so we're looking forward to Thursday," said Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar, who has led the Falcons to three of their five state championships out of nine trips to the final.
Ian Blanchard is in his third season as Dulaney coach, and his Lions have gone 40-3, including their current 6-0 start.
The Falcons have gone 43-7 under Dunbar.
The Falcons' two losses this season were to unbeaten Calvert County powers Northern and Calvert, the Nos. 1 and 2-ranked teams in the Washington area. Two other losses to Calvert were in the latter's 3A state championship years of '97 and '98.
Severna Park lost to Watkins Mill of Montgomery in the '97 semis, in addition to a regular-season loss to River Hill, currently The Sun's top-ranked team.
With four returning senior starters in setter Erin Reinhardt and hitters Lindsay Lawson, Heather Hourihan and Leanne Costa, this could be the Lions' best chance of making their first state final.
Dulaney pretty much owns the North Region and would meet the South Region champ in the state semifinals. Prince George's County teams make up the South Region and are not that strong.
Severna Park plays out of the East Region, where No. 7 Broadneck (3-0), No. 8 C.M. Wright (8-0) and No. 13 Glen Burnie (3-2) hope to challenge.
Tomorrow's showdown should give Dunbar a good indication of how far his team has come in their reloading mode.
"We're playing well right now," said the coach, whose squad can go nine to 10 players deep.
"We weren't quite ready for our opener at Northern, but played better against Calvert and actually could have won that one. I think we've moved from being shaky to steady, but we're not yet where we want to be."
Severna Park is being led by three seniors in hitter Lauren Briggs and back row/defensive specialists Lindsay Ortel and Megan Medford and a pair of sophomores in setter Megan Boyd and 6-foot-1 middle hitter Lauren Klau.
"Megan Boyd doesn't feel she has to be her sister [graduated All-Metro Lauren Boyd] and has played well, while Lauren [Klau] has a lot of potential."
Klau has played her way into a starting position and, according to Dunbar, "could be a great player by the time she's a senior."
Tomorrow will tell a lot.
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