MARION -Like a prodigal son, James Blackmon will return to Marion and coach the Giants boys’ basketball team next season. Yet, his hiring didn’t go off without a hitch this evening.
The Marion School Board voted 5-2 to hire Blackmon, with board members Mike Luce and Scott Murphy dissenting. Luce said he objected to the process and that Blackmon’s hiring was being “railroaded” through the board.
Murphy said he could have voted to approve Blackmon, but voted in support of Luce’s objections.
Blackmon attended the meeting and received a loud ovation after Marion Community Schools Superintendent Steve Edwards introduced Blackmon as the Giants’ new coach. The Marion native has coached the past seven years at Fort Wayne Luers and won Class 2A state championships in 2008-09.
“All people have opinions, and I respect that,” Blackmon said of the vote. “But I just want to come here and do a good job and lead by example.”
Luce said he did not learn of Edwards’ recommendation to hire Blackmon until 35 minutes before today’s board meeting. Although board members discussed Blackmon in executive session for 20 minutes, Luce said he wanted more time to delve into issues he had with Blackmon’s hiring.
“I’ve had numerous calls — more than any other position we’ve hired — about this,” Luce said. “There is a vast silent majority out there that are concerned with Mr. Blackmon’s character.”
Luce, who is the father of former Giants coach Joe Luce, raised questions about Blackmon’s time as Marion assistant coach from 1997-99 when a marijuana-related arrest led to his contract not being renewed. The case was eventually dismissed.
Blackmon also will have to sit out Marion’s first game as punishment from the IHSAA for receiving two technical fouls in Luers’ regional championship-game loss to Bluffton.
“My concern is the past situations that Mr. Blackmon has had,” Luce said. “He was brought up here, but he won’t be coaching his first ball game as a Marion High School coach because of his actions in his last ball game at Luers. … He won’t be coaching his first Giants game here and I think that’s an embarrassment.”