It's official: Chris Kusnerick will not return as Collinsville High's athletic director

News-DemocratMay 22, 2013 

— Chris Kusnerick's four-year run as Collinsville High School's athletic director will end the first week of June.

Kusnerick, 47, in February was reassigned to the classroom and offered a job as a social studies instructor for the 2013-14 school year. He hired an attorney to help him retain his job as athletic director, but finally opted to forego the effort.

Kusnerick said Tuesday night that he wants to remain in administration and is seeking another opportunity.

"Right now, I have been reassigned as a teacher," he said. "I'm going to continue to pursue other administrative opportunities. If that doesn't work, then I'll be back in the classroom at Collinsville High School this fall.

"I've been a finalist for a few AD jobs. I'm going to continue to try to stay on the administrative side of education. I hope (that happens). But the state of education, with budgets and cuts, people aren't looking to hire a lot. Some of the administrators in the area that are retiring, they're not replacing. So it makes it a little bit more difficult."

The specific reasons for Kusnerick's dismissal as athletic director remain cloudy. There have been suggestions that some Collinsville coaches were angry about job-performance evaluations given by Kusnerick, and the coaches took their concerns to the board.

Asked what sparked the controversy that led to his reassignment, Kusnerick didn't offer specifics.

"Being an athletic director is very political," he said. "You've got to try to please parents, fans, coaches, community members, players. So it's a situation where there's a lot of politics involved and there's a lot of constituents out there that you've got to try to keep happy. Unfortunately, some of those constituents weren't happy, and that's why I think what happened, happened."

Second-year Unit 10 Superintendent Dr. Robert Green in late February told Kusnerick of the board's decision to remove him as athletic director. Green has said he couldn't discuss the personnel matter publicly.

After learning of his reassignment, Kusnerick secured attorney Brian Schwartz, of the Illinois Teacher's Association in Springfield, to represent him as he sought to retain his job as athletic director.

During a public-comment forum prior to a regular school board meeting April 15, Kusnerick received strong public support, and the board delayed making a final decision on Kusnerick.

Kusnerick then had five days to request a public meeting with the school board, but he declined the opportunity.

"I just felt it was time to move on," Kusnerick said. "The board that night (April 15) basically said they were not going to change their minds. My son (Jason) was getting ready to graduate. The board meeting would have been (Monday) night; my son graduated on Saturday.

"I just felt that I didn't want to put myself and my family through the next six weeks or month, whatever it was, with this whole thing up in the air. So I just felt it was time to move on."

Despite the public support in April, Kusnerick said the board's intentions to reassign him remained obvious.

"Those board members are (serving in) an elected position," Kusnerick said. "They're pretty much set. They obviously have the opportunity to make those decisions when it comes to personnel, and that's what they're doing in this situation."

The athletic director's position has been posted. Kusnerick's assistant has been Darin Lee, but Lee is the boys basketball coach at Collinsville, and for about the past decade, a coach has not been allowed to also serve as athletic director.

The school board has considered hiring a part-time athletic director, something no other school in the Southwestern Conference has done.

Kusnerick is proud of what he accomplished as athletic director. During his tenure, the football and soccer field received a new synthetic surface and the old scoreboard was replaced.

Kusnerick also helped the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic, held each December, remain one of the most prestigious tournaments in the state, and he was eager to celebrate its 30th year.

"I'm pretty proud of the four years I was here," Kusnerick said. "When you look at the facilities and the upgrades that we've had that I was a part of and involved with ... And you look at some of the upgrades and changes we've made in the Schnucks Tournament as well as in the gym, just the way things were run. I stand on my record.

"I'm going to leave here with good memories. There's a lot of good people in this community and in this district."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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