Darren Doyle, Edmonson Voice
After being hired less than 3 months ago as the new Little League Program Director, Greg Hudson has resigned from the position. The resignation comes as a surprise to many as there has been an overwhelming majority that feels Hudson’s impact on the program has been positive.
The program has faced its share of ups and down over the last several years and depending on who you talk to depends on how the program is viewed, but with many folks saying that this year’s season was an improvement in the overall program, the question now becomes what went wrong, and why did Hudson resign so suddenly?
“I can’t do this job properly if I have to be a lawyer more than I am a program director,” Hudson said. According to Hudson, the job came with its expected share of gripes and complaints, but that there were a couple of coaches and one parent specifically, that latched on to a couple of issues and wouldn’t let go.
Hudson said certain coaches challenged him in the process in which the All-Star coaches were selected, as well as the manner in which some rained-out games were not made up. Hudson said he had to cut a couple of games out of the season due to time constraints.
Hudson said that overall, he felt good about the direction of things, but it was frustrating to have a handful of folks continuously threatening to go above him (to fiscal court or the Judge Executive) in order to get their way, especially when he felt that it wasn’t in the best interest of the majority. Hudson said he also received threatening phone calls and text messages on different occasions throughout the year.
Judge Executive Wil Cannon said that overall, his office had received good feedback on the status of this year’s program and said he still feels that Hudson was the right guy for the job, however, because Fiscal Court governs the Parks and Rec Program, sometimes they intertwine with one another in ways that are detrimental to both.
According to Cannon, the straw that might have broken the camel’s back was when a parent requested Hudson to show secret All-Star ballots when their child was not chosen for the All-Star team. Cannon said Hudson did not show those ballots, which resulted in the parent visiting Cannon to make an open records request. Cannon said that because Parks and Rec is governed by Fiscal Court, Parks and Rec falls under open records law in certain cases.
“My opinion is this,” said Cannon. “Local government does not need to be organizing or administrating the little league program. The little league program has procedures on how to set up a board and how run a program. In every other surrounding area I’ve spoken with, the little league sets up its own board. The local government only supplies the fields to play on, as well as field maintenance, along with utilities and a building for concessions. We could possibly set it up like that here and the Little League program won’t have to fall under the same guidelines as Fiscal Court.”
Cannon pointed out that not all records and documents from Parks and Rec are subject to the open records law, such as the All-Star ballots. “There are limitations with certain documents,” Cannon said. “Especially those involving juveniles. You can’t just turn over documents that have juvenile’s names on them to the public. Plus, the coaches made their All-Star selections in confidence. If we make that public, no coach will vote the way they feel because of fear of a backlash from others.”
Cannon said that the only documentation the Little League board or director would have to make public would be those not pertaining to juveniles or matters conducted in an open meeting. In the instances with All-Star coaches and secret ballots, neither of those fell under that category, but he says it opens the door to similar issues in the future unless the county government gets out of the picture.
Hudson said balancing it all was more than he’d bargained for, and that he wasn’t aware of some of these issues before taking the job. “As much as I hate not doing what I wanted to do with this job, there was so much negative stuff people were saying that my family was being exposed to,” Hudson said. “It if was just me, that’s one thing, but I’m not going to continue to do this will all this stuff going on.
A recent EdmonsonVoice.com poll asked “What impact do you see from the changes implemented in Parks and Rec this year? 70% said positive, 22% said negative, and 8% said no change.
“Here I wanted to do something good for the county and the people, but I feel like I’m in over my head if I’ve also got to be a lawyer,” Hudson added.
This means that the upcoming little league basketball season that will start this fall is now in question. With no program director in place, it’s not clear what will happen at this point. Cannon said that he still feels that Hudson was the best applicant for the job. Cannon was asked, “If the best applicant for the job has resigned in less than three months, where do you go from here?”
“My recommendation to Fiscal Court will be to disband the Baseball/Softball board after the completion of this season, and that Fiscal Court not have anything to do with appointing any more board members,” Cannon said. “They can follow the guidelines of Babe Ruth and/or Cal Ripken rules in setting up their own board. They can do that themselves and there’s plenty of time to do that before next season.”
Hudson was also recently hospitalized for an artery blockage and was set to have surgery this week, but he said the issue was not a factor in making his decision. Hudson has agreed to remain until the end of this year's baseball/softball season, and will officially be relieved of his duties sometime in mid July.