- Two days before the administration and activities director fired coach Chris Ferge the school sent a survey to the varsity players.
We put in an open records request to see the results.
33 of 42 players took the survey, their names being kept anonymous.
Twenty of them answered questions like, "what's the worst part of the program, " with negative comments like:
"Coaches not being supportive and calling them worthless."
"The bullying, the unfairness, and being mistreated."
"The coaches suck and I hated every day."
When asked what could make the program better, 18 of 33, specifically said things about Ferge and his staff such as:
"Fire the head coach…fire every single coach and change the entire program…get someone who can lead the team and actually get players wanting to play."
But six players reacted positively, showing support for the program.
"The players and coaches were like family to me," one player said.
After our initial coverage, Newswatch12 received a copy of an email that was sent by parents who were in favor of firing the coach.
That email went out the night before the players took the survey.
It asked parents to tell their sons to stress the negative atmosphere and disrespect for the football program.
However, it also encouraged kids to set aside their personal feelings about the coaches.
Not all parents were in favor of finding a new coach.
A number of parents called Newswatch12 and said they asked the administration to hold a second meeting with more parents in the football program.
According to those parents that meeting never happened.
In a follow up interview with Rhinelander Superintendent Kelli Jacobi, she said the administration felt they needed to make a move immediately.
Some parents argued that Former Rhinelander head football coach Jim Moore was given a personal improvement plan the season before he was let go.
However, Coach Ferge did not receive a formal improvement plan.
The administration said it talked about issues with Ferge over the years but nothing was ever put in writing.
In the Rhinelander Activities Handbook, it states that any issues with district personnel should be addressed with the coach first, followed by his or her supervisor and lastly the superintendent if the matters cannot be resolved.
Jacobi said she asked the parents who wanted Ferge gone if they had confronted him or Brian Paulson before coming to her.
Jacobi was told they had, but she had no documentation to prove that.