CHARLESTON -- The former Winfield High School girls basketball team coach has filed a lawsuit in hopes that the state law about hiring non-teacher coaches will be declared unconstitutional.
Paul Sutherland named the Putnam County Board of Education, the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers as defendants in the case.
Sutherland was employed by the defendants from 2000 until 2008, but had never been employed as a teacher, according to a complaint filed Feb. 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
During his eight years as coach, the girls basketball team made six state tournament appearances, won two state Class AA titles, and compiled a 159-43 record, according to the suit.
Sutherland claims his contract was not renewed for the 2008-2009 season because a teacher at the high school had bid on the position.
West Virginia law does not allow the defendants to consider Sutherland's coaching qualifications, tenure and coaching success in the hiring process, according to the suit. He claims they are only allowed to consider that he is not a teacher.
Sutherland claims the defendants were required to post the coaching job as open every year, but positions held by teachers are automatically renewed each year without being posted.
The law fails to protect the best interests of the students, as it denies them the opportunity to have the most qualified coaches, according to the suit.
Sutherland is a real estate agent. He was replaced at Winfield by Tim Toler when Toler bid for the coaching position last summer.
Sutherland is seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional and for an injunction to be reinstated to his coaching position. He is being represented by Richard E. Holtzapfel.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-247