A successful longtime head basketball coach of a Philadelphia public league powerhouse has resigned in the middle of the season, leaving the school’s administration scrambling, players befuddled and everyone wondering exactly why it happened.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Danny Jackson, the head coach of Math, Civics, and Sciences Charter’s (MC&S) boys basketball team, announced Tuesday evening that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program that he helped build into a state champion in 2011. Jackson’s official assistant coach is Math, Civics, and Sciences Charter athletic director Lonnie Diggs, and both were absent from the team’s showdown with fellow Philadelphia Public League hoops power Imhotep Charter, a game which ended in a 72-55 Imhotep rout.
In a phone interview with the Inquirer, Jackson said that he was stepping down to, “pursue other educational and coaching opportunities.” Yet, later Tuesday evening the coach said that he was only taking a leave of absence and was not officially stepping down. Likewise, Diggs insisted that he had not stepped down and was still employed by the school.
Despite Jackson’s protestations to the contrary, there have been rumors that both Jackson and Diggs were under threat because an adult volunteer who had helped at team practices was not properly cleared to take part in the exercises. Jackson explicitly denied that was the motivation for his sudden departure, but that has not quelled speculation about the potential misconduct.
While Jackson’s final missive made it appear that he could still return in the future, the man who took his spot behind the MCS bench on Tuesday made it clear that such a return is quite unlikely in the 2014-15 season. MC&S stands at 7-8 with just five remaining contests. The Mighty Elephants are only 1-4 in divisional contests, which makes any postseason involvement highly unlikely.
That aforementioned replacement coach, former University of Hartford basketball player David Ruffin, told the Inquirer he would almost certainly lead the team until the end of the 2014-15 campaign.
“With all of the changes going on everybody felt like they were a little out of place as far as the defenses, but I haven’t even had a practice,” Ruffin told the Inquirer after MC&S’ loss to Imhotep. “Tomorrow I told them we’ll practice light because we have a game on Thursday, but we’ll go over some of my main principles. We just need to practice so I can see what the team looks like.”