Darby School Board disciplines head football coach for racial comments

DARBY, Mont. - A Darby football coach will be suspended for one year after making controversial remarks on social media. 

The disciplinary actions were outlined in a release from the Darby Public School sent Tuesday. 

Jeff Snavely made insensitive remarks in a Facebook post on May 31 in response to a video of a Black Lives Matter protest in Salt Lake City. In his comments, he replied to a Facebook post praising law enforcement, saying that "they should all be strung up and hang in the public like the old days. Lot less of that sh*t would go on."

"Coach Snavely’s comments on social media were unacceptable," reads a statement from the school board. "No effort to try to explain them or to put them in context erases the fact that he chose those words and made the conscious decision to share them with the world."

The school board statement goes on to say: "Those words do not represent this school, this board, our teachers and staff, or the community of Darby as a whole. They have caused tremendous grief, pain and divisiveness in our community that will likely take a great deal of time to heal."

On June 25, the board held a public meeting via video to discuss Snavely's actions. In the days since, the board has had many questions about the next steps. 

Tuesday, the board outlined the disciplinary action as follows:

● Mr. Snavely will be suspended without pay as coach for one year, effective June 30, 2020. During that time, he may not coach any Darby students directly or indirectly, including through other coaches. He also may not attend any practices or Darby football camps. If the 2020/21 football season is suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the suspension will carry over to the next season.

● Mr. Snavely will be required to attend and complete a board-approved, one-on-one training or counseling on social/racial injustice at his own expense.

● Mr. Snavely will be required to attend and help organize at least four community conversations set up by the board chair and vice chair to improve the culture and climate in the community and Darby Public Schools. He will also be required to bring 10 community members to each training by his invitation.

● Following completion of the training and community conversations, Mr. Snavely will be required to establish a board-approved 1-hour program educating Darby youth about the necessity of inclusion, respect and celebrating all cultures and races. This training will be reviewed by the board and subject to changes as necessary.

● Mr. Snavely will prepare and distribute a public apology to the community as well as via social and traditional media outlets.

● A letter of reprimand, including the above corrective actions, will be placed in Mr. Snavely’s employment file. We chose not to terminate Coach Snavely at this time in hopes that the actions outlined above and below can help us find a path toward healing; a way to generate a greater discussion in our community about difficult issues.

For our part as a Darby Public School and the decision we made. We will:

● Institute a racial/social justice committee at our school

● Take part in the community trainings

● Have schoolwide trainings to address social injustices

● Check in June 2021, by the same methods we are putting this notice out, to let the public know what we have done and the effect it has had on our community and what changes have come along for Mr. Snavely in his life.

Coach Snavely’s comments sparked great anger and pain, damaged the reputation of our school and our educators, and caused the district financial hardship. We believe he has a responsibility to this community to douse those sparks and make things right.

Firing the coach would not have allowed us to make these demands of him. If he is true to his word that he hopes to learn from this mistake, and he is willing to take a leading role in helping our community heal, we will provide him a single opportunity to make good.

We would ask our community and the hundreds of others on social media who have expressed a variety of opinions to be involved productively in the conversations that will come from this incident.

On behalf of the School Board, I want to apologize to not just our community, but to all of those who were hurt, angered or victimized by the coach’s comments. It is our hope the steps outlined above will help bring real healing to this issue.

News For You