WPIAL wants Penn Hills football coach Jon LeDonne suspended

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | 10:30 AM

Jon LeDonne just won a state title, but the WPIAL wants the Penn Hills football coach suspended for next season’s opener.

The WPIAL board voted Monday to discipline LeDonne and the school’s athletic department after someone on Penn Hills’ sideline ignited a smoke device before the WPIAL championship Nov. 23 at Norwin.

The WPIAL had told Penn Hills’ administration that its team wasn’t allowed to create a smoke cloud, but that directive was ignored, WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said.

“We told them not to do it and they just did it anyhow,” O’Malley said.

The WPIAL discipline includes:

  • A one-game suspension for LeDonne.
  • Sportsmanship education class for the football staff.

  • A one-year probation for the football program.
  • Censure of the administration and football staff.

RELATED: Coach Jon LeDonne was his high school’s valedictorian and has a PhD in engineering from Carnegie Mellon

If the school doesn’t agree to suspend LeDonne, the WPIAL would ban Penn Hills from the football playoffs, O’Malley said.

The smoke stretched the length of the field at Norwin Knights Stadium minutes before Penn Hills faced West Allegheny in the WPIAL Class 5A final. Penn Hills had also created smoke before the semifinal this season, O’Malley said, and the WPIAL informed the school that it was not permitted at the championship.

“They just defied the directive,” O’Malley said. “We’re legally liable in the case somebody has a reaction or somebody gets hurt.”

In a statement, Penn Hills administration said it will appeal the WPIAL’s decision:

“While we do not condone this behavior from our students, it is our clear and distinct impression that the coaches gave specific directives about refraining from such behavior after November 16, and they had absolutely no involvement in either incident; therefore, we will be appealing any/all sanctions directed at members of our coaching staff.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


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