Damien Memorial School dismisses athletics staff including football and basketball coaches, HHSAA still confident that sports will return for the fall

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Damien Memorial School has announced that the contracts of head football coach Eddie Klaneski and boy’s basketball coach Alvin Stephenson are among more than a dozen that will not be renewed for the upcoming school year.

Brother Brian Walsh, former president of Damien Memorial School, provided a statement to KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello on Thursday morning. The statement indicates the uncertainty surrounding high school athletics given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is among the reasons for the dismissals.

“Given all the guidance that is being provided by authorities on the reopening of schools, all of which indicates a probable change in the number of teams that will be fielded, the length of each season and the presence or absence of spectators, it seemed in the best interest of all involved in our athletic program and of the school, to inform some coaches that at the present time a position is not available,” he said.

Walsh did not provide specific details on the individual terminations, which include Klaneski, who has won multiple ILH championships in his time as head coach, as well as Stephenson, who led the Monarchs to the school’s first-ever state championship in basketball in 2019.

“Some coaches are also employed as full-time Damien Memorial staff members. School policy is that personnel decisions concerning full-time staff members are never discussed,” said Walsh.

According to Hawaii High School Athletics Association executive director Chris Chun, Damien’s decision to essentially remove their athletics department for the time being has nothing to do with the HHSAA as confidence remains high that there will be an athletics season this fall in the state of Hawaii.

“This decision is not based on anything the HHSAA is providing to them,” Chun said. “This is just a school based decision that they chose to make on their own. We’re still very confident and hopeful that there will be a high school season.”

Monarchs Athletics Director Rudy Alejo was also reassigned with the moves according to Walsh.

“In specific reference to the athletic director, if the duties of the office were to be reduced from full to part time, in deference to Mr. Alejo’s long years of service, it was felt wise to have him return to his full time teaching position,” Walsh said.

In response to Damien’s stability as it pertains to enrollment and budgeting, Walsh said “we ended last school year with (an enrollment of) 695 and at present have 647 for next year (with) the budget on 590.”

Last week, Mid-Pacific Institute president Paul Turnbull revealed that his athletics department will not participate in football, cheerleading and wrestling for the 2020-2021 academic year due to health concerns over the coronavirus.

Mid-Pacific students participate with other small private schools to form Pac-5 in the three aforementioned sports. It is unknown at this time if the Wolfpack will be able to field a football team in the fall with the loss of the MPI student athletes.

If Damien does not compete in the affected sports for the 2020-2021 school year, its enrolled athletes are stuck between a rock and a hard place as of Thursday night. Chun says as long as the school remains open, athletes will have to transfer to their district’s public schools to compete, even if Damien does not field athletic teams.


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