Maison Hullibarger was a freshman at the University of Toledo when he died without warning. While grieving, the Hullibarger family did have one firm, unique request: They did not want his high school coach to attend their son’s funeral.
According to the Toledo Blade, that message was passed on to Bedford (Mich.) High School coach Jeff Wood, who either never received it or refused to acknowledge it. As a result, he no longer has a job leading a high school football program.
As reported by the Blade, Wood had just been asked to leave the funeral when he took to Facebook to vent about the situation. While the post has since been removed, it was captured by the Blade and apparently was brought to the school district’s attention, and that precipitated Wood’s dismissal after 11 seasons leading the program.
“He is no longer affiliated in any way with the Bedford football program,” Bedford schools superintendent Carl Schultz said in a statement to the Blade. “The district holds all of its staff to the highest standards of professionalism, as personal and professional integrity is the core of our service to our community.
“The district recently received allegations that those standards may not have been met by the coach. Therefore, we are in the process of thoroughly investigating those allegations. The district will take appropriate, firm, corrective action if the allegations are substantiated. To protect the rights of all involved parties, I cannot offer further comment regarding ongoing personnel matters.”
The full reasons behind why the family was so adamant Wood not be present remain to be fully developed, though his surviving relatives cited an alleged history of verbal mistreatment of Hullibarger and his brothers, who also played for Wood at the school.
Wood’s response to the banishment, as he published on Facebook, was less than graceful:
Before anyone tries to write off Hullibarger as just another player, know that he was not. Hullibarger was a star. The Class of 2018 two-way starter served as a running back and defensive back for Wood’s teams and was the kind of tent pole player upon which programs are built. If he had a problem with Wood, and his brothers did as well, it’s fair to surmise that a whole lot of other former players did, too.
As a result of those controversial comments, Bedford is suddenly without its football coach of the past 11 years, complete with eight state playoff berths. As noted by the Blade, Wood went 77-38 at Bedford. He had only previously been suspended for a single game at the start of the 2015 season, for an incident to which he was only tangentially connected.
“What we need to do for our son is we need to stand up for him now,” Linda Hullibarger told the Blade. “[Mr. Wood] is leaving because he did something horrific and people need to know that he’s not this great coach that is just stepping down on his terms. He is gone for a totally different reason.”