Aaron Epps ousted as Springdale boys basketball coach

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021 | 1:33 PM


After leading the Springdale boys basketball team to three straight playoff appearances, its first section championship since 1993, and 42 total wins, Aaron Epps was informed Wednesday the Allegheny Valley School District was opening his position.

Springdale athletic director Pete Simpson confirmed the decision.

In three years at the helm, Epps never had a losing season and went 42-21 while leading the Dynamos to back-to-back No. 4 seeds in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs. They also earned a trip to the quarterfinals last year.

“I’m just thinking about how we turned the whole program around,” Epps said. “And here’s the thing that makes it even more insane: I’ve never had a parent meeting since I’ve been at Springdale. I’ve never been reprimanded for anything at Springdale, and all we’ve done is win.”

In 2019-20, the Dynamos captured a share of their first section title since 1993 when they went 20-4.

This past season, the Dynamos were hit with a coronavirus outbreak right before the playoffs when they had four players test positive. The Dynamos were able to quarantine the rest of their players and would have had enough to play their WPIAL first-round playoff game. But the school district decided to pull the Dynamos from the playoffs, and they were forced forfeit to to No. 13 Winchester Thurston.

In response to the school district pulling the team from the playoffs, Epps, along with a few players and parents, protested the decision at the district’s administration office in early March in hopes the district would reverse its decision.

Epps said he was told that was the reasoning behind opening his position.

“Today was the first day that I heard from (Superintendent Dr. Patrick Graczyk), and they basically said him and the board of trustees or whatever, they just don’t think they can have me coaching there because I protested with the kids,” Epps said. “Like, of course I’m going to protest with the players. That’s what a protest is, and I have the right to do that but they also have the right to fire me. My thing is why didn’t you just fire me right after the season? Why did you wait three months to fire me?”

Graczyk responded with a statement: “The Allegheny Valley School District employs coaches on an annual basis, and all positions can be opened at the discretion of the administration, athletic department and school board. At this time, the district has opened the position of varsity boys basketball coach and will be advertising for this position.”

In 2018-19, Epps led Springdale to a 12-9 record as they placed fourth in Section 1-2A and lost to Jeannette in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. The Dynamos took another step forward two years ago when they went 20-4 and won a share of the Section 1-2A crown, which they split with Sto-Rox.

They suffered a disappointing loss to Winchester Thurston in the quarterfinals after playing them, and beating them, three times during the regular season.

Led by senior guard/forward Demitri Fritch, who was a first-team Valley News Dispatch selection and averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds, the Dynamos were just as strong this past season. While playing a tough schedule that included PIAA and WPIAL champion OLSH, Class A champion Bishop Canevin, Class 4A runner-up North Catholic, along with South Allegheny and Highlands, the Dynamos finished the regular season 12-8 before being pulled out of the playoffs.

Before coaching at Springdale, Epps led the girls basketball team at Hempfield for five years, compiling an 81-43 record with a WPIAL runner-up finish, a section title, five playoff trips and two trips to the PIAA tournament.

Epps also led the Kiski Area girls program for one year and was an assistant at Butler for eight years when his mother, Dorothea, was the coach.

When asked about what his future might hold, Epps said he wasn’t sure if he would look for another coaching job because his son, Jordan, is a seventh grader in Shaler Area School District, and he wants to see him play more as he gets older.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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