The coach who led the Longhorns to a share of the 2002 state boys soccer championships has been fired.
Roger Wholly said Payson High School principal Roy Sandoval and athletic director Dave Bradley beckoned him to administrative offices after school Jan. 18 to tell him he was being replaced.
"Roy began with, ‘Roger, we are not happy with where the soccer program is now; we have had many complaints over the past few years to the superintendent and school board members.
"‘So, we are letting you go and will advertise for a new head coach for next year,'" Wholly said. "My response was that you are the boss and if that's what you want to do, that's going to happen."
Sandoval confirmed that Wholly would be replaced next season, but because the matter is a district personnel issue, policy dictates he cannot comment on the reasons.
Wholly said he asked Sandoval and Bradley what it was that he did to cause his firing.
"I'd like to know what I did wrong," he said. "I asked, why did you not bring this up during my evaluation last month and why did you send me, last week, to an all-day in-service for coaches."
Wholly claims that during his five years at the head of the boys soccer program, his evaluations have been "almost great" and that sending him to the in-service, if he was about to be fired, was a waste of taxpayers' money.
"Dave finally spoke and said letting me go was because of some new information they had received," Wholly said.
The former coach claims his firing "was political and for the best of some parents with hurt feelings."
Wholly also said he left the meeting confused as to why he was fired because neither Sandoval or Bradley provided the reasons and answers he was searching for.
Wholly was named the head coach in 2001 to replace Byron Quinlan who resigned. At the time of his hiring, he was no stranger to soccer, having helped establish the team, along with Alfonzo Munoz, eight years earlier. During the first two years of the program, Wholly served as the jayvee coach before stepping away from the prep scene to coach at the youth level. He took several local teams to the Grand Canyon State Games.
In Nov. 2002 at Tucson Udall Park, the PHS program reached its zenith, tying a powerful Sedona team, 0-0, for the 1A-3A state title. The Longhorns finished the season with a 19-3-2 record.
Although Sandoval could not comment about Wholly's firing, he did issue a written statement that read:
"The governing board, (PUSD Superintendent) Mrs. Myers and the community have entrusted me with Payson High School to create and maintain high quality programs that ensure supervision, instruction engagement, safety, support and student progress.
"Mr. (Tim) Fruth and Mr. (Dave) Bradley and I are constantly monitoring and evaluating all programs including extracurricular activities. We will continue to monitor and assess; making decision based upon what we believe is the best interest of students, parents and the community.
"As we move toward a climate and culture of high expectations, we ask that everyone stand with us to identify, attract and retain staff of the highest level of integrity and commitment to our vision of uniting students, parents, staff and the community to achieve the common purpose of academic excellence."
Wholly's dismissal as soccer coach does not affect his high school science teaching position.