Carmel players, parents show support for fired girls basketball coach

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CARMEL, Ind.-- Members of the Carmel girls basketball team and their parents are showing support for a former coach who was let go Friday.

Tod Windlan

Carmel High School did not specify why Tod Windlan was fired, but released this statement:

For the past month, Carmel High School administrators have been conducting a review of the girls basketball program. During this time, multiple interviews occurred with student athletes, members of the coaching staff as well as parents. On April 13, Carmel High School sent a communication to parents of the girls basketball team stating an action plan would be put in place to guide the program going forward. Upon further examination by the Carmel Clay Schools administration, it has been determined that there is a need to change the direction of the girls basketball program. Carmel Clay Schools is committed to providing our student athletes the best environment to succeed. Effective today, Carmel High School will begin the search for a new girls basketball head coach. We expect to have a new coach in place for the 2018-2019 season to lead our team of outstanding student athletes.

Parents and students held a rally at the Carmel Public Library right after school. Students showed up wearing shirts that read "#FreeWindland" as well as signs with phrases of support for the coach.

"He’s been a pillar to me, all the girls," said sophomore player Jasmine McWilliams.

"Coach Windlan has made a big impact on me," said Molly Kracht, another player.

Online fundraisers have also been created to support Windlan.

The news came as a shock to players and parents because it came about a week after Principal Tom Harmas said in a letter that Windlan would keep his job. The letter said a review of the basketball program was conducted  and  resulted in a new plan of action but no need for a new head coach.

"Honestly, we have no idea what happened," McWilliams said.  "We thought we were all good, we had moved on from it."

Dozens of students and parents attended the Monday night school board meeting. They addressed the district leaders about their desire for transparency about this issue.

"We’re also looking for  this decision to be reviewed openly with the school board, open to the public," said parent Tom Leonard.

FOX 59 talked to interim co-superintendent Roger McMichael after the meeting and asked whether students will get further explanation on this matter.

"The issue they're referring to is  a personnel matter," McMichael said. "We do not discuss or share personnel matters. More consideration was given to the matter, the decision was changed."

The district is keeping Windlan in his teaching position.

Windland has been the team's coach since the 2014-15 season. He won 87 of 107 games, and also clinched three sectional titles in a row.

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