To call the actions of Steel Valley head boys basketball coach Drew Schifino and his staff drastic is an understatement.
With his team shaping up for a WPIAL Class AAA playoff matchup against South Fayette, Schifino was preparing for a tough matchup against South Fayette, a team that had already topped Steel Valley twice in the 2014-15 season. That’s when he was told that his star player, Dom Keyes, would be ineligible for the playoff game, completing changing Steel Valley’s outlook and game plan without any sort of time to draw up a new one.
The result was a remarkable bit of civil disobedience on the part of Schifino and his Steel Valley staff. The coach refused to lead his team in the playoff game, instead sitting near the court alongside Keyes. For his part, the senior was befuddled that he was ruled ineligible despite an impressive 3.7 GPA. The issue was simply that he was enrolled in three core classes rather than the four needed to remain eligible to compete.
“I wouldn’t have been mad at him being ineligible if you tell me Saturday, but an hour before the game?” Schifino told the Tribune Review.
In a series of tweets, Schifino supported his players and criticized his own athletic director, Shawn McCallister. McCallister was the team’s coach for nine seasons, earning seven playoff berths, before he was replaced in September. McCallister was among the four candidates interviewed for the coaching job in the fall but the school opted not to retain him.
Schfino is among the top scorers in Western Pa. history with 2,320 points for Penn Hills during his playing career.
Despite the dramatic sudden absences, Steel Valley still kept tight to South Fayette before eventually slipping behind for good. Perhaps things would have been different if Keyes and Schifino had both been taking part. But they didn’t, and the result was a 77-58 victory for South Fayette.
With the season seemingly coming to a close, Schifino insists that he hopes to return as head coach in 2015-16, he just doesn’t know if the school wants him back yet. Given what happened on Friday, that may now be in more doubt than ever.