CRETE | Students, teachers, and school alumni showed up in large numbers to support the former Crete-Monee Athletic Director Gene Cahan.
An estimated crowd of 200 was on hand to let the school administration know that they strongly disagreed with the decision to remove Cahan as the athletic director on March 19.
Fifteen people signed up for the public comment portion of the board meeting, and all of them asked members to reconsider their decision.
“There are a lot of rumors and innuendos out on Facebook and the Internet,” said Thomas Hysell, the board president. “Most of them are not true. We ask that you address the board with an open mind.”
He also told the crowd that the board could not respond to questions regarding a personnel manner, and that no action involving Cahan would be taken Tuesday night.
One of the speakers presented the board with a petition that contained 725 signatures asking for Cahan to be reinstated as athletic director.
“One of the signatures belongs to Laquon Treadwell,” Carroll Millsap, one of the speakers, told the board.
Treadwell's mother confirmed last week that she complained to Crete-Monee High School and District 210U administrators about Cahan's decision to post unflattering photos of her son in a school hallway. The photos showed the Ole Miss-bound wide receiver being kissed by coeds and holding a stack of $100 bills in what Treadwell described as a prank photo.
Cahan cited those photos as the reason he was removed from the AD post he held for eight years.
Several of the speakers noted that the original photos of Treadwell were first posted by himself on social media.
“Where is his accountability?” Shelia Bartlett asked the board.
Resident Paul Carlos told the board that the vote on March 19 violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act, and that a motion had been filed with the attorney general’s office.
The board went into closed session on March 19 to discuss personnel matters, including Cahan’s status. They did not come out of closed session until 3 a.m. to vote.
The board then voted 3-2, with two abstentions, to remove Cahan as athletic director. According to Carlos, the late hour of the meeting and the vote violated the Open Meetings Act.
Cahan remains the varsity baseball coach, and will be able to return to teaching in the school system. Cahan, who became athletic director in 2005, has been the school's baseball coach for 25 seasons. Prior to becoming athletic director, he taught math.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, 210U Superintendent John Rodgers said Cahan's ouster didn't owe only to the Treadwell photo incident, adding, "It was more involved than that. It's not just one thing."
Joe Reda, president of Southland Conference and Bloom Township athletic director, told the board that Cahan was good for the entire conference, not just Crete-Monee.
“Gene did a lot for kids from all of the schools in the conference,” Reda said. “He would go out of his way to help students with mentoring, tutoring, scholarships, you name it.”