When Howard Lutton arrived home on Jan. 5 after staying overnight at a hospital for reconstructive foot surgery, a certified letter from the Franklin Pierce School District was waiting for him.
Good thing, Lutton joked, he was on painkillers.
“I was told in the letter that my contract for coaching would not be renewed,” said Lutton, who had been the Cardinals’ football coach for 24 years.
He was stunned. Franklin Pierce won the SPSL 2A league title and reached the first round of the state playoffs in the fall.
“It was going to be real exciting going for another league championship,” he said, “trying to go back-to-back.”
Because Lutton plans to appeal the termination to the superintendent of Franklin Pierce School District, Frank Hewins, he did not want to discuss why he thought his contract was not renewed.
“I’m going to take the only option left to me and that’s appeal (to) the superintendent,” said Lutton, who had a one-year contract, like most high school coaches. “I’m not going to turn this into a mudslinging contest.”
Calls to the Franklin Pierce School District were not returned.
Lutton told Franklin Pierce’s booster club about the situation on Monday. Later that evening, a group called “Support Lutton like he supports us” was formed on Facebook.
“I am really grateful for all the support people have given me,” he said Tuesday evening. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing.”
Lutton has taught at Franklin Pierce for 34 years. He has been the school’s track coach for 33 seasons. He said the letter addressed only his position as football coach.
Doug Pacey: 253-597-8271