The Allegheny Valley School District insisted that Epps was not fired.By Meghan Schiller

SPRINGDALE, Pa. (KDKA) — After leading his team to three straight playoff appearances, the boys basketball coach at Springdale High School said he has been benched.

Aaron Epps said his commitment to his players cost him his job.

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Epps told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller that he helped turn around the school’s boys basketball program, but now he’s out of a job. His players are furious and decided to take a stand and walk out.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“This was one of the worst programs in the WPIAL. And in three years, we got the second- or third-most wins in 2A. We won the first section title since ’93,” said Epps.

On Wednesday, his winning streak ended. Epps talked one-on-one with KDKA to share the news.

“They don’t want the community to think that they just fired me. So they’ll say, ‘Well, we just opened the position and you can come and apply again’ knowing that they’re not going to hire you back,” Epps said.

The former Springdale coach thinks this stems from an incident back in March when Epps said he questioned the school district’s decision to pull the team out of the playoffs, ending the boys season over coronavirus concerns.

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“If we can’t play a basketball game, how are you letting kids back in school? Basketball, there’s only 20 people there, school there’s 90,” Epps said.

To show support, his players staged a walkout on Wednesday.

“A lot of stuff that he did went behind the scenes that people don’t know about,” said Chris Mitchell. “He got us into a lot of camps. He really cared about us, not just for himself and getting wins for him. He really cared about the kids too.”

The school district said it did not fire Epps but opened the coaching position, saying in part: “All positions can be opened at the discretion of the administration, athletic department, and school board.”

Epps said he did not condone Wednesday’s walkout, posting on Facebook “please, have your kids stay in school, it won’t resolve anything.”

“Even though I wasn’t a teacher here, I talked to all the kids all the time,” Epp said. “They all knew me. I tried to build relationships. So even though I don’t agree with what they did I do appreciate it.”

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The Allegheny Valley School District insisted that Epps was not fired but did say it opened his position for applications. Epps said he will not reapply for the job and hopes another great opportunity comes along.

Meghan Schiller