Heeb out at Scott County

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
David Heeb returned to Scott County after coaching at Bell City for five years. He went 16-14 in his first season as the coach at Scott County. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

The school district began advertising for his positions.

An employee in the administrative offices of Scott County Central School District confirmed Monday that the district is seeking an athletic director, a boys basketball coach and a high school track coach -- three positions that were occupied last school year by David Heeb.

Heeb, a Scott County Central alum, returned to the school district prior to the 2005-06 season after a successful five-year run at Bell City that produced two state championships.

His brief time at Scott County Central has included a suspension handed down from the Missouri State High School Activities Association and a pending lawsuit he filed against MSHSAA and Bell City.

The administrative employee at Scott County Central would not say whether Heeb had resigned or whether his contracts had not been renewed, nor whether he still was employed with the district.

She took a message for the school's superintendent, Dr. Joel B. Holland, who she said is on vacation this week. Scott County Central school board president Mark Freed also was unavailable Monday and board vice president Mike Blissett refused to comment or verify factual details, referring questions to Holland.

Calls to Heeb's cell phone also were not answered.

Heeb, who had been the AD and boys basketball coach at Bell City for five years, returned to his alma mater in 2005 after leading the Cubs to two Class 1 state championships -- 2002 and 2004, the program's only titles -- and another final four appearance in his final season.

He coached the Scott County Central boys basketball team to a 16-14 record and a district championship in 2005-06. But bad blood was brewing between Heeb and his former employer, which had made a complaint to MSHSAA that Heeb exerted undue influence in attempting to get players from Bell City to transfer to Scott County Central. The teams canceled a regular-season meeting in 2005-06, and Bell City ended Scott County Central's season with an 82-51 decision in the Class 1 sectional round.

In April 2006, MSHSAA suspended Heeb for the second semester of the 2006-07 season, prohibiting him from coaching or attending boys basketball games. It also placed Scott County on three years' probation and restricted Heeb from conducting open gyms during that span, but that penalty was reduced to the one year that concluded this past April.

Heeb filed a lawsuit in September against Bell City and MSHSAA, citing acts of coercion and a conspiracy.

Heeb did not coach the Braves at all in 2006-07, instead yielding from the start to legendary coach Ronnie Cookson, who guided Scott County Central to 12 state championships before stepping down in 1992.

Cookson led the Braves to a 24-5 season, including two wins against Bell City early in the year, but the Braves lost to the Cubs in the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament and the Class 1 sectional game as Bell City had its second straight state runner-up finish under Brian Brandtner.

Heeb remained in his role as AD and helped out on the bench for Scott County Central girls coach Semona Penrod, who also is not returning to her job next season after leading the Bravettes to the quarterfinals.

In the spring, he coached Scott County Central's first-year track program, which produced state qualifiers in boys and girls events.

Internet speculation about the vacancies began surfacing on www.mosports.com Saturday after the posting of all the district's coaching positions and the AD job on the Web site www.moteachingjobs.com. The listing for an AD and coaches for boys and girls basketball, baseball, track and softball (which is a new offering for Scott County) was last revised on Friday, according to the Web site.

Holland has been supportive of Heeb throughout his contesting of the MSHSAA suspension. He attended with Heeb a June 2006 meeting of the MSHSAA board of directors trying to overturn the April 2006 ruling, and he talked publicly of considering a lawsuit on behalf of the school district against MSHSAA.

Scott County Central did file a complaint with the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education which resulted in a $13,000 penalty against Bell City for illegally counting some out-of-district students as residents to obtain state aid.

Heeb's lawsuit against MSHSAA and Bell City remains active and pending as of Monday, said Paul Kidwell, one of Heeb's attorneys with the firm of Scott, Kidwell and Scott.

Kidwell said he could not comment on Heeb's status with the Scott County Central School District. "It's been a couple of days since we talked," Kidwell said.

He said he still is trying to determine how a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued in June on the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's penalties against a private school for recruiting may impact Heeb's case against MSHSAA. The court said TSSAA was within its right to enforce the rules; Kidwell is interested in the due process aspects of the decision.

Cookson said Monday he had just returned from a week of vacation and also was not up to speed with what has transpired at Scott County Central.

Asked if he would coach again this season, Cookson said, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Underline that. I don't have any interest in doing it at all. They need to find themselves a younger coach.

"This is summer," he added. "Nobody has contacted me, and I'm not planning on returning anytime."

Cookson, who also coached at Advance during his 25-year career, was 62 at the conclusion of 2006.

Cookson was one of several former coaches affiliated with the school district last year. Holland is a former high school basketball coach. Lennies McFerren, who coached state championship teams at Charleston and New Madrid County Central, was the principal at the high school last year but left for a position in Tennessee.

He has been replaced by Al McFerren, who last month concluded his duties as Cape Girardeau Central High assistant principal.

A person answering the phone at Al McFerren's house Monday did not know anything about the situation.

(Additional information for this story provided by Marty Mishow of the Southeast Missourian.)

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