Facing 1-game suspension, Woodland Hills boys basketball coach Matt Furjanic resigns

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Friday, January 15, 2021 | 1:04 PM


Facing a one-game suspension handed down by his school district, Woodland Hills boys basketball coach Matt Furjanic resigned instead.

Furjanic submitted his resignation letter Friday morning, hours before he was expected to serve his suspension. A longtime college coach, Furjanic cited a poor working relationship with the school’s administration as his reason for quitting.

“I just felt like it was a constant battle,” he said.

The second-year coach was at odds with the WPIAL and Woodland Hills’ administration over a social media post he’d shared last week. On Twitter, Furjanic disputed a technical foul he’d received for cursing during a game Jan. 8 at Gateway. Furjanic said he was assessed a technical for yelling: “Dammit. That’s steps,” words he considered benign.

He suggested on Twitter that the WPIAL should provide coaches with a list of banned words. He tagged the WPIAL’s official Twitter account in the tweet.

PIAA sportsmanship rules prohibit coaches from criticizing contest officials “through the media or to student-athletes or spectators, rather than through the appropriate review process.”

The WPIAL held a hearing Wednesday and elected to only censure Furjanic — essentially a public admonishment – and left any additional discipline to Woodland Hills’ discretion. After the hearing, the school district gave Furjanic a one-game suspension without pay, he said.

That convinced Furjanic to resign.

“I wasn’t getting any support (from the administration) any way,” he said. “And with no support from this, I saw the writing on the wall, from the superintendent and the athletic director, that they weren’t going to support me.”

Furjanic said he received a poor review last season and was criticized for not playing an up-tempo style. After resigning, the Rankin native said he had “mixed emotions but no regrets.”

He sent a text message to his player that said in part: “I will always be here for all of you whatever you need. This was a very hard decision to make. Get a win tonight.”

Furjanic was in his second season at Woodland Hills, a program he also led from 1991-95. Before returning to the WPIAL, Furjanic most recently coached 17 seasons at Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla. He also coached at Robert Morris, Marist and Pitt-Greensburg.

Woodland Hills athletic director Ron Coursey referred questions to the school’s administration. Superintendent James Harris confirmed Friday that the district received Furjanic’s resignation.

“I’m always disappointed that an employee wants to resign but coach made up his mind,” Harris said, adding that he was limited in what he could say regarding personnel issues.

“We did take some action,” he said. “He most likely was unhappy with that action and he decided to resign.”

Harris said the boys basketball team will move forward with its current assistant coaches in charge. The Wolverines are 0-2 and scheduled to host Berlin Brothersvalley on Friday.

“We have a good team, a good staff and we’re not going to stop because the coach decided to leave us,” Harris said.

Furjanic’s coaching career started in 1972 as a volunteer assistant at the former General Braddock, which won a PIAA championship that year. The high school in North Braddock later merged with Churchill, Edgewood, Swissvale and Turtle Creek to form Woodland Hills.

Among his coaching stops, Furjanic was named men’s coach at Robert Morris in 1979. He led the Colonials to NCAA Tournament berths in 1983 and ’84.

Furjanic, who’s 70, hopes to coach again.

“I still love to coach,” he said. “I’m young enough. I still have the energy. Will anybody hire me? I don’t know. Will this hurt me? I don’t know. But I think I have a proven track record and everywhere else I’ve been I’ve received good evaluations.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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