Coach issue tabled
A veteran Northern Lehigh basketball coach has been spared his job for at least another month while the district continues to investigate an incident in which he transported a player.
The school board on Monday unanimously agreed to table a motion to rescind the appointment of Richard Oertner from his position as head boys basketball coach for the 2010-11 school year.
Board President Edward Hartman said the board tabled the motion "due to an ongoing investigation" of Oertner's unsafe transportation of a player. Oertner was originally reappointed to the position April 12.
Flanked by players, members of his coaching staff, and family, Oertner issued an apology to the board.
"I got caught up acting around with the kids," Oertner said. "I'm very sorry for my actions, and am personally embarrassed that I am here before you."
Oertner said he would do things differently if he could.
"I make a mistake transferring the student," he said. "I wish I could take it back, but I can't."
Oertner told the board he apologized to the parents and the student immediately that night.
"This is not the way I normally act with my players," he said. "I have 10 years experience as head coach, and there has never been a safety issue."
Oertner said he declined to accept the board's offer to resign.
"I have a commitment to the kids," he said. "I have committed to the district for many years, and I care too much about the kids to resign."
Oertner then told the board he would be willing to donate his salary for next season back to the school, or be placed on probation.
"I wish I could take back my poor choice; it was a mistake; it was wrong," he said. "I'm hopeful that you'll allow me to retain my position as boys basketball coach."
Oertner declined further comment after the meeting, and it remains uncertain which player was involved or how the player was transported by Oertner.
Hartman said the board could vote on Oertner's status at next month's meeting. He declined further comment.
Resident Art George Jr., as well as senior player Michael Hoffman Jr., both were prepared to speak on Oertner's behalf, but decided to hold off since the matter was tabled.
This past season, Oertner guided the team to a 19-6 record and Colonial League title, the team's third in four seasons.
For his career, Oertner has a 162-98 record, and his team won the 2007-08 District II 2A Championship.