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ALIQUIPPA (KDKA) — Half a dozen people spoke at the Wednesday night meeting of the Aliquippa School Board, describing long-time high school football coach Mike Zmijanac as not just a great coach, but a better person and teacher.

One speaker said, “His loyalty to Aliquippa is unprecedented.”

Another man said, “This coach, in mine, and in many other’s opinions, should be retained in this position.”

Coach Zmijanac sat in the audience listening intently, but chose not speak on his own behalf.

When it came time to vote, the nine member school board decided 7-2 to start advertising for the position of a new head coach.

After the decision was made, Zmijanac’s reaction was terse.

“The school board should always do what’s best for the school and for the kids in the program, that’s obviously what they did,” he said.

During his 21 years as heard coach, the Quips record was 237 wins, and only 36 losses.

His teams racked up six WPIAL titles and one state championship.

The Aliquippa superintendent refused to explain why the the school board decided to look for a new coach.

“No questions, I’m not commenting on any personnel issues we do,” Superintendent Pete Carbone said.

KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti: “You can’t tell us why it was made, what went into the thought process?

Carbone: “No.”

Several other board members also refused to explain their votes. But board member Pastor Ezra Lowe told KDKA why he thought it was time for a change.

Lowe: “He had a marvelous record, but, like I said, he didn’t do it on his own. He had about eight coaches behind him that did the work.”

Iannotti: “Is that why you voted to open his contract?”

Lowe: “I voted ’cause it’s time. Listen, 21 years, and we only got one state championship, come on now.”

The School Board will accept resumes for the head coaching job until March 9.

Ralph Iannotti