Indiana girls basketball coach blames parents for 'train wreck' dismissal

Photo: Mykal McEldowney, Indianapolis Star

Tod Windlan on Monday called his dismissal as Carmel (Indianapolis) girls basketball coach two months ago “a train wreck.”

Windlan spoke to IndyStar after he was named Greencastle girls basketball coach Monday evening. His contract had not been renewed at Carmel after complaints from some players’ parents.

Carmel reviewed its girls basketball program after the conclusion of the season. Players and coaches were interviewed. Windlan said the reason he was given for the review was that several parents had expressed concerns about playing time and his coaching style.

“I hate that the world of parents is all about entitlement, unicorns and rainbows,” Windlan said. “The world isn’t like that. I prepare my kids for the game of basketball and also prepare them for life.”

Windlan said, “Two or three parents were not happy with playing time and (me) being too hard on them, too demanding on those kids. Twenty-one of the 24 (players) loved it.”

Windlan said he was not given explicit examples of being too demanding, calling the descriptions “very evasive.”

He said the details he was given regarding his behavior were “all exaggerated lies.”

After the review was completed, parents received a letter April 13 saying that there would not be a coaching change. Windlan was told the same thing.

“I met two times during the whole process with (athletic director Jim) Inskeep and (principal) Dr. (Tom) Harmas, and I was called in and asked the same questions in the investigation that (assistant principal)  Karen McDaniel did, and the next day I was told I was fine,” he said. “‘Proceed to go. Twenty-one of the 24 love you in all different ways.’ There’s three that had identical stories that were basically rehearsed.”

The letter to parents that stated that there would be no coaching change also said that the team would have open practices. Windlan said he was not aware of any incidents in practices that would have raised red flags.

“You’ll have to ask Carmel on that one,” he said about the reasoning behind the open practice policy. “If I had stayed at Carmel there would’ve been a lot of 5 a.m. practices. There are cameras in every gym.”

The team had an open gym on April 19. The next morning, Windlan said, he was asked to meet with Steven Stephanoff, Carmel’s interim human resources director.

“It was a very surprising, shocking development that happened,” Windlan said. “The only explanation I got with Dr. Stephanoff was, ‘We’re going to have a change of direction.’ They would not give me a reason.

“I didn’t even know who the guy was. I went down there and was told ‘change of direction. “

Messages to Inskeep, Harmas, McDaniels and Carmel Clay Schools co-superintendent Roger McMichael have not been returned.

Windlan said he would not change his approach or coaching style at Greencastle.

“I’m not going to change because society and the world has become soft. Kids want to be pushed,” he said. “The great players want to be pushed. I’m going to bring the same passion and intensity anywhere I go. It’s in my DNA. That’s how I am.

“I’ve done it for 15 years and this is the first time in 15 years I’ve had any qualms from anybody.”

Greencastle athletic director Doug Greenlee said he had checked references before hiring Windlan.

“I will not disclose who I talked to,” he said. “From the minute I met coach Windlan, I knew he was the guy for this job. There’s always a line, but we know the line. We don’t cross the line. Kids respond. They want to be pushed and they want to be coached.”

Windlan’s focus now is on Greencastle. But he was blunt in his assessment of how his time ended at Carmel, a place where he had he expected to finish coaching.

“They handled it very poorly. It was a train wreck,” he said. “I took the high road. I love all my players there. Just because they didn’t play didn’t mean I didn’t like them, it means they weren’t good enough to play. I think my record spoke for itself.”

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