Woodland Hills principal who threatened student could be next football coach
Woodland Hills School Board is set to vote next week on whether to hire Kevin Murray, the high school principal recorded threatening a student , as the new head coach of the Woodland Hills varsity football team.
Murray, an assistant football coach, would replace George Novak, the current head football coach and district athletic director, who announced his retirement in November 2016.
Novak is the only football coach in Woodland Hills’ history and was announced last week as an inductee into the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Hall of Fame. He retired after the fall 2016 season with a 306-139-3 career record, making him one of only three WPIAL football coaches to reach the 300-win mark. He also owns six WPIAL titles.
Novak won his first title coaching with Steel Valley School District in 1982. He started coaching at Woodland Hills in 1987.
If his hiring is confirmed, Murray would not be required to resign from his role as high school principal, School Board President Tara Reis said. The district allows administrators to work as coaches, a rule that varies among districts.
Murray was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 30 after an audio recording surfaced of him threatening a 14-year-old special education student.
In the recordings, which were made in April but released in late November, Murray can be heard telling the student, “I’ll punch you right in your face, dude,” and “I’ll knock your (expletive) teeth down your throat.”
In another portion, Murray tells the teen he would prevail in court.
“When we go down to court, it’s your word versus mine,” Murray can be heard saying. “And mine wins every time.”
Murray returned to the job in late January. The district said he was disciplined, but officials wouldn’t say how.
He did not face criminal charges in connection with the incident. But Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., in a letter written to Superintendent Alan Johnson, called Murray’s actions “inappropriate and arguably threatening.”
The incident occurred during a disciplinary meeting after the student called an administrator a derogatory name, according to the teen’s attorney, Todd Hollis. The teen was accused of violating Pennsylvania’s wiretap law because of another recording posted to social media that authorities said he made of school officials in September. The unidentified teen was given six months of probation. The teen was not charged with a crime related to recording Murray.
The board approved the creation and posting of the head football coach position at a Feb. 15 legislative board meeting. The job posting went into effect as of March 2, according to Woodland Hills school board public documents.
Reis said that the posting was available for 10 business days and about 10 applicants were considered.
A salary for the role has not been determined, Reis said.
The board also is set to vote next week to hire Ronald Coursey as athletic director, effective July 1, at a salary of $95,000 a year plus $3,000 for relocation reimbursement.
Next week’s legislative board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the district administration building, 531 Jones Ave., Braddock.
Reporter Ben Schmitt contributed to this report. Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-850-2867 or at [email protected]