Ousted Dunbar football coach Darran Powell speaks exclusively with FOX 45
DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) – Ousted Dunbar football coach Darran Powell spoke exclusively with FOX 45 about his side of the OHSAA investigation into an attempt to throw a game over an ineligible player.
“First time we heard about that was at 4 o’clock when we were on the bus that it was in question,” he said.
The team was on their way to face Belmont October 28, Powell said right before their game, he had a conversation with Dunbar’s Athletic Director Peter Pullen.
“Coach Pullen came back to me with the word that he was good to go, so put him in the game,” he said. “Then 20 minutes later, came back again that there’s a mistake made, now he’s ineligible.”
So during halftime, Powell, District Athletic Director Baker and the principals from Belmont and Dunbar had a meeting to talk about the eligibility issue.
“After that, I walked into Mr. Baker’s office,” Powell said. “It was me, he was already in there with Ms. Phillips and Ms. Walters.”
“I asked him, I said, ‘What do you want me to do, tell me what you want me to do,” he continued.
“And that’s when he said to me [retracted player] was in fact ineligible,” he said, “and if Belmont wins the game, we don’t have to worry about anything.”
“It was a directive, to be honest,” Powell added. “It was to save the district. More so let them win, and no one will ever know.”
According to a follow up report by the Director of Safety and Security for the district, Powell claimed he told Baker he wouldn’t tell his players to lose, and Baker allegedly responded: “Go ahead and see what happens. The district will have a [mess].”
Baker denied ever giving a directive or saying in that half time meeting that Dunbar should lose.
According to the follow up investigation document, he did admit to joking with Belmont’s principal prior to the game that it would be best if Belmont won.
After the meeting, Powell went back out to the field.
“I told the guys, I said, ‘Guys, unfortunately, I was told if we want to go to the playoffs that then we have to let Belmont win this game,” he said.
“The kids was very distraught,” he continued. “It was very emotional.”
The aftermath played out on the field and was all caught on camera.
“On the film, you can see when I actually said that it was more so you see the kids take their helmets off,” he said. “Kids walk back to the bench.”
The players slowly shuffled back to the line, then there was a hike, and a toss right to Belmont.
“I’m kind of confused,” an announcer said over the video on DPSTV. “What’s going on?”
Players walked off the field in protest and threw their arms. Then on the next play, there was another pitch to Belmont.
“I don’t know what Dunbar’s doing,” the announcer said.
Eight months after the game, Powell’s coaching contract was not renewed at a June 20 board meeting, while Mark Baker was given a 2-year extension in April.
School board member Joe Lacey was the only one to vote against Baker’s renewal.
“To reward someone with a 2-year contract extension who should be held accountable is not going to happen for this vote,” he said.
In a follow up report by the Executive Director of Safety and Security for the district, Powell’s account of Baker’s comments during the halftime meeting are corroborated by three people.
According to the memo, Dunbar’s Principal Crystal Phillips said, “Baker replied, ‘Dunbar needs to lose this game. It’s the best thing for the district.”
Belmont’s Principal Melanie Walter corroborate the comment according to the document, saying ‘Belmont needs to win.”
Albert Powell, who also works as a coach for Dunbar and who is Darran’s uncle, said Baker told him, “There’s been a mistake. I can fix this. You have to let Belmont win. I can sweep this under the rug.”
In the same memo, Baker maintains he made so such statement.
“They all corroborate the same story of what happened within a meeting at halftime before the game was thrown,” Lacey said at a school board meeting in April. “Almost all the people at the meeting except for one, and the one person that the board and administrations are choosing to defend is the lone dissenter. Who doesn’t even say what happened at that meeting. He only just denies what everyone else corroborates at that meeting.”
Baker has denied multiple requests by FOX 45 for an interview. We then asked the district if he suggested the game be thrown and that Belmont needed to win. They said “no”.
“Hindsight, I’d probably just take my team and leave the field, take that forfeit,” Powell said.
“As coaches, we knew we didn’t do anything wrong,” he continued. “We was following orders.”
“Never in my days would I ever tell someone to intentionally lose a game,” he said.
Powell emphasized to FOX 45 that he has no ill will toward Mark Baker, and doesn’t want the athletic director to lose his job.