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Before Rantoul Township High School will find a full-time athletic director, the school is going the interim route again.
RTHS Superintendent Scott Amerio said Friday morning Allen Jones Sr. will serve as the Eagles’ interim athletic director for the second semester of this school year. It’s the second straight year Jones has taken on this role after he did so during the second semester of the 2011-12 school year.
“I am going to bring a more permanent plan to the January board meeting and see if the board will approve that,” Amerio said. “We’re trying to move forward with it.”
Amerio said Jones can start work now as the interim athletic director, and the board will officially approve the move at its Jan. 14 meeting.
The first time Jones — a former Rantoul police chief who is a life-long Rantoul resident — held the interim tag, it was under less auspicious circumstances than what he’ll be coming into this time around.
Process started last December
Former RTHS athletic director Sally Bryan retired in mid-December last year after announcing in June 2011 she would retire.
The board failed to approve Amerio’s recommendation of former RTHS boys basketball head coach and current RTHS teacher Chris Wagner as Bryan’s replacement at its September 2011 meeting, citing a need to bring in more candidates from outside the district.
Jones was named the interim athletic director at the November 2011 meeting, filling out that role until this past June.
In the meantime, the board hired Joe Bendoraitis at its May meeting to fill the role of athletic director and head football coach.
The head football coach position came open in February after the board decided not to renew former RTHS head football coach Shane Carter’s contract at its February board meeting.
Bendoraitis officially started his duties of athletic director and head football coach July 1.
He was gone five months later. Amerio said he resigned for “family and personal reasons” on Dec. 12.
Amerio, along with RTHS Principal Todd Wilson and several RTHS head coaches contacted immediately after Bendoraitis’ resignation, declined comment on any specifics about his abrupt resignation, and several messages left on Bendoraitis’ cell phone were not returned.
Amerio said Jones serving on an interim basis will give the administration more time.
“To not have to come up with a more permanent solution right now and the whole process of trying to find somebody mid-year is nice,” Amerio said. “I’m hoping that this will give us the opportunity to create a position that is stable and get somebody in there that is going to provide us that consistency we need.”
Jones said he had a brief conversation with Amerio Friday morning to see if Jones would be interested in filling the role on an interim basis again, and Jones said he would be.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jones said. “I had a lot of fun last time, and I think we can get through the end of the year and let the board decide which way it wants to go.”
Amerio said he doesn’t have a preference if the new athletic director comes from someone already working in the district or an external candidate.
“It will just be whoever’s got the qualifications and characteristics we’re looking for,” Amerio said.
Best option at present
Amerio said he believes having Jones fill the position on an interim basis is the best option for the school right now instead of bringing in a full-time athletic director in the middle of the school year.
“The people you’re going to get are either people not working right now or somebody that’s willing to break their contract,” Amerio said. “Potentially, we had some internal candidates where we could have tried to move classes around (for the second semester), but I think this is a much better route for us to go and not have us mess with all that. It will get us into a normal interviewing (and) hiring schedule.”
It’s a hiring schedule that Amerio hopes to bring about a new athletic director before spring.
“My plan is, if the board approves the plan we’re looking at (during) the January board meeting, I’m going to post (the job) the next day,” Amerio said. “I’d like to have somebody hired early in February or March.”
Jones said he’s comfortable with the duties he’ll have — scheduling officials, staffing home games, working on future schedules and more — since he’s done it before.
“There’s not a whole lot of change,” Jones said. “The staff and the administrators up there were great in helping me get acclimated last year. I haven’t talked to too many people that didn’t like the job I did anyway. You always have some, but I think the fact that I know the school, the community, the athletes, the coaches and the students, it will go smooth.”