CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) — The head football coach at Eaglecrest High School has resigned just one game into the season — citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
“It was a very, very, tough decision to resign,” Dustin Delaney told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “To me, there was no good decision, because it was such a bad situation.”READ MORE: Prom Dress Exchange Seeks Community Support As Schools Cancel Annual Dance
Delaney said at least two students were wounded directly as a result of the poor field conditions. He said many of the holes in the ground came from sprinklers that were not covered properly.
“Sprinkler heads were four=to=eight inches beneath the turf, where kids who stepped in the holes were going to hurt their knees,” Delaney said. “[Cherry Creek Schools] filled those holes with dirt, mixed with gravel and some rocks the size of my fists.”
Delaney posted the following statement on Twitter:
“I am writing this letter to announce my resignation as Head Football Coach at Eaglecrest High School. I took this job on the reputation of Cherry Creek Schools and the district’s motto of ‘Dedicated to Excellence.’ Since I moved here at the beginning of June, I have seen nothing even resembling excellence. All I have seen is a decaying school district where no one takes accountability and everyone shifts the blame for not having work done.
“I have asked for nothing since the time I accepted this job except for what is best for kids. I took a pay cut to come here and negotiated nothing that any other teacher in the district gets. I have fought tooth and nail since May to protect our players and provide a safe and clean place for them to be. Our locker rooms and bathrooms throughout the our school don’t have all the toilets working, don’t have soap in the dispensers, and there are more broken sinks than sinks that work. Our locker rooms do not have working showers and were used as storage for junk. Our weight room was not cleaned at all during the entire summer and has been cleaned less that 2 times this school year. CCSD is asking for an outbreak of MRSA with the lack of cleanliness. Now the worst part — the district’s negligence has caused two [of] our players to have potentially serious knee injuries that may require surgery. I have asked since May that our practice fields be fixed for the safety of our kids. Not to be perfect, but simply to be safe. The sprinkler heads on the practice fields are 4-8” beneath the rest of the field creating a passive pothole in the field. Both players stepped into sprinkler heads and [now] have knee injuries because of it. The district has been aware for a long time that fields are unsafe. Our coaching staff has said that we lost multiple players over the years to dangerous fields. Other potholes on our football field were fixed with a mixture of dirt, gravel, and rocks (some as big as my fist). Try playing football and landing in that mixture. My colleagues claim that the fields have been unsafe for 15+ years and the district will never do anything about it. We are jeopardizing kids’ futures with district negligence.
“My wife’s science classroom does not have enough books for her students and the computers are broken or so slow she cannot access online content. The ceilings of her classroom are falling down. She has to teach a core subject with no books and no computers. Where is the excellence in that?
“I can no longer coach these fine young men because it is not healthy for me, for my family, or for the team. I spend all day fighting things for the benefit of kids and can no longer do it. I am exhausted. I hope this letter and my resignation jump-start the fixes that our students deserve. After all, who doesn’t deserve safe facilities, areas they can take care of personal hygiene, and proper books or computers to learn with.
Delaney’s post was met with mixed reactions. Some applauded the move, others said it was “the exact opposite” of what he should have done.
“‘Dedicated to Excellence’ does not mean excellence is handed to you. It means that you come in and make an excellent environment for these kids to grow, no matter the challenges,” one person replied. “You missed your chance to think outside the box and teach perseverance.”READ MORE: Columbine High School Victims Honored 22 Years After Tragedy
Delaney posted another tweet about an hour later, responding to the critics.
“To those who think I should’ve sucked it up & coached, here’s a pic of knee brace of one of top players in the country from practice Mon. knee brace is supposed 2 be straight it was bent at a horrible angle strictly because fields are unsafe. My hope is for change so kids r safe,” he wrote.
Abbe Smith, Executive Director of Communications for Cherry Creek Schools, issued the following response regarding Delaney’s statement:
“It is unfortunate that Coach Delaney decided to leave his team at this point in the season. We have addressed concerns raised by Mr. Delaney over the summer and will continue to address needs as they arise. Eaglecrest has a long record of success academically and athletically and our focus moving forward is on our students. We met with players and parents this afternoon and look forward to a successful season with a new coaching staff.”
Thought the district said they addressed concerns in which Delaney brought to their attention, he said that was not an accurate statement.
“That’s a total lie,” Delaney told CBS4. “I have been told the fields are safe. And I’m on the fields and I’m going ‘This ain’t safe.'”
Delaney, who moved his family to Aurora from Kansas for the coaching job eight months ago, said he knew the facilities and fields were not brand new. He described the school building as old.
Through his resignation, Delaney hoped the district would take greater action on addressing the issues he spoke out on.
“I don’t know how else to protect them, and draw attention to it,” Delaney said. “Player safety is an issue I won’t jeopardize.”MORE NEWS: Teen With Autism Helps Patients Navigate UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital
Delaney agreed to interview with CBS4 on the condition that he was speaking as a concerned adult, and not as a representative of the district. Delaney still teaches in Cherry Creek Schools, and said he did not know what the future held for his family.