Boys Basketball

Thomas sad about leaving Roosevelt, said it's good to get away from chaos

2013-06-26T19:14:00Z 2013-09-16T18:46:13Z Thomas sad about leaving Roosevelt, said it's good to get away from chaosSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com

Renaldo Thomas felt bad about being removed as the boys basketball coach at his alma mater, Roosevelt. But there was some agitation with the process and the outspoken coach had a lot to say Wednesday night.

Much of it had to do with Roosevelt athletic director A.J. Rodriguez.

"We've had five ADs this (past) school year and A.J.'s been there three times and everyone knows he's trying to find another job," Thomas said. "He's bringing in a bunch of hired guns from East Chicago to coach."

Rodriguez confirmed that Panthers girls basketball coach Lani Edmonds is no longer coaching at Roosevelt after going 2-9 in her first year on the job. Rodriguez said that Roosevelt has hired a new football coach, Ronald Wright, who will replace Jeff Karras, who was fired before the season ended last fall.

Roosevelt did not enter a girls basketball or girls tennis team in the IHSAA tournament. Roosevelt entered teams in the baseball and softball sectional brackets, but none showed to participate.

"That tells me that A.J. doesn't care about Roosevelt athletics," Thomas said.

Thomas did not know a football coach had been hired, but wondered why it took so long to replace Karras.

"There's no one standing in line for that misery," Thomas said.

Thomas is a legend at 'Velt, leading the Panthers to the 1982 state championship game, losing to Plymouth in double overtime. He went to Houston and played for the Phi Slama Jama team that lost to North Carolina State in the 1983 NCAA national championship game.

He coached Lew Wallace for six seasons and went 65-68. His program advanced to the 2010 Class 3A state final, losing in overtime to Washington.

After taking a season off, Thomas returned to his alma mater and went 2-16 last winter.

"Roosevelt used to hire Roosevelt people to coach," Thomas said. "A lot of people aren't coming back. I did my best to rebuild the program but I had a lot of people working against me. (Rodriguez) is hand-picking the people he wants and most of them are from East Chicago."

Rodriguez, an E.C. native and former football coach for the Cardinals, did not return a call seeking his side of the story.

"I'm there for Roosevelt, it's always been my dream job," Thomas said. "But I felt uneasy in my exit interview. I want to see the project through. I never complained. I was happy. I'm going to put some feelers out. I want to coach and see what's out there. Maybe Gary, Indiana has run its course."

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