Ohio Children's Football League Reverses Decision, Allows HIV-Positive Man to Fill Coaching Position
August 11, 2003
The governing board of the Ellet Suburban Football League, a children's football league outside of Akron, Ohio, on Thursday overturned an earlier decision that barred an HIV-positive man from being an assistant coach and restored the man to the position, the Akron Beacon Journal reports (Wallace, Akron Beacon Journal, 8/8). Dan Gable, director of the league, on Aug. 3 called a board meeting after receiving anonymous telephone calls from people identifying themselves as parents of children in the league who said that they were concerned about Stephen Derrig coming into contact with their children on the field because of his HIV-positive status. The league -- which is overseen by the Ellet Amateur Athletic Association -- subsequently voted to prohibit Derrig from coaching. However, at a meeting the following night, almost all of the members of the board announced their resignations when many parents said that the board was making an "ill-informed" decision (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/7). League President Mike Moye said that the board changed its position on Derrig -- who is the father of a child on the football team -- after meeting with heath care professionals and an attorney. He added that restoring Derrig to the position was "what the board had planned to do all along," according to the Beacon Journal. Moye said that the board will require parents of team members to sign a waiver stating that they are aware of Derrig's HIV-positive status, a condition to which Derrig has agreed, the Beacon Journal reports. Moye said, "We're fine with him coaching," adding, "It's up to the parents now. If [the parents of] 28 [children] sign [the waiver] and 12 don't, those 12 [children] won't be playing. Mr. Derrig will still be coaching."
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