The Niskayuna Central School District is set to get a new varsity basketball coach tonight, an appointment prompted by the school board declining to reappoint the previous coach last month over allegations he used profanity with players.
Up for approval tonight is the appointment of Bryan Mattice as the new coach. Mattice has a long history with Niskayuna basketball as both an assistant on the varsity squad and head coach of the junior varsity team. He is a teacher at the high school.
If approved, Mattice would replace Ian McShane, who was not reappointed as coach in a narrow vote by the school board last month after contentious meetings at which parents and students spoke out for and against him. Mattice would take the helm of the Silver Warriors varsity team in time for the first practice session, on Nov. 11. The first game is scheduled for Dec. 6.
Mattice said Tuesday he has gotten little sleep in recent days, as he worked to prepare for the season on short notice.
“It’s a big job, but I’m ready to do it,” he said Tuesday. “I think the boys, once they hit the floor, everything will be as usual, with the boys having fun.”
Mattice, 31, was the choice of a district search committee, as well as the school’s athletic director and superintendent, school board member John Buhrmaster said Tuesday.
The board is set to vote tonight on whether to approve his appointment. The job comes with a salary of $5,318.
Buhrmaster, who was one of the three board members who voted to keep McShane, said he believes that Mattice, with his connection to the students, will be able to help put the coaching controversy in the past.
“He’s a teacher at the high school and well-liked by everyone,” Buhrmaster said. “I believe he’ll bring a lot of strength to the job. He’ll help to heal the wounds of the recent divisiveness.”
The school board voted 4-3 at its Oct. 8 meeting not to keep McShane in the post. Robert Winchester, Debbie Gordon and Buhrmaster voted for retaining McShane, while Barbara Mauro, Deb Oriola, Patricia Lanotte and Kevin Laurillard voted against.
Mauro declined to comment on personnel issues when contacted Tuesday. Winchester also declined to comment.
The vote came after consecutive contentious meetings where those commenting referenced allegations that dated back to last winter, when McShane was accused of using profanity with players, once during a game at Saratoga Springs and once during an earlier practice.
An official account from the district was not available. McShane, who attended part of the October meeting, declined to comment or respond to the accusations. But according to those who spoke at the meeting, the accusations resulted in a one-game suspension.
Those supporting McShane at the Oct. 8 meeting told the board that McShane had served his suspension and had been a model coach since. They argued that he was a good coach and should be retained.
Others at the October meeting, fewer by comparison, asked the board to make their decision based on all available evidence, questioning McShane’s fitness to be Niskayuna’s varsity basketball coach.
Mattice, who played his high school ball locally at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, has been a social studies teacher at Niskayuna High School since 2006.
He was also an assistant varsity basketball coach for the school from 2007 to 2011 and the head junior varsity coach from 2011 to 2012.
“I want to make it a special experience for them,” Mattice said of the varsity team, “and we’ll do our best to move forward and band together behind the boys, as it should be.”