A football coach's decision to host a party for his middle school team at Hooters has cost him his volunteer position with the team.
A letter from J.P. Soulagnet, the athletic director for the Corbett School District, was posted on the district's website this week addressed to "Families and Friends of Corbett 7th/8th Grade Football."
The letter states football coach Randy Burbach intended to honor his team with an end-of-season celebration at a Hooters restaurant. Soulagnet wrote that he asked Burbach to select a different location, "so that all of the athletes and their families could attend and feel comfortable."
"He was unyielding and emphatically said no for a number of reasons," the letter states.
Burbach told FOX 12 the party would go on as planned, just without the district's support.
"If parents had contacted me weeks ago with their concerns, and told me in person that they had a problem with the venue, I might have considered changing it, but none of them did. The first I heard of anything being wrong was this Sunday, and that was from the district," said Burbach.
"People have the right to not go, but they don't have the right to bully us other 20-some people who are going into changing this venue," he said.
Burbach says it was the teams idea to go to Hooters for their banquet, and admits he had his concerns about hosting the event there at first. So, he went to check out if it was an appropriate place for the team to eat.
"I went to the restaurant, had lunch and met the staff," said Burbach.
"I believe and still believe it will be an appropriate and memorable place for the banquet."
But the district doesn't seem to agree. Soulagnet also wrote: "Some might say that this restaurant objectifies women. I would tend to agree. It is not a restaurant that I would feel good about my wife or daughter working at."
The letter states: "This is no longer a Corbett Middle School Football event."
Not all parents agreed.
"I've run into a lot of different coaches in a lot of different sports, and coach Burbach is the best coach I have ever run across in the last eight years I've been doing this," said Mike Paintner.
Paintner's seventh-grade son played football for Burbach this season.
Paintner said he wasn't offended by the decision to host a team party at Hooters. However, because Burbach won't be back coaching, he now wishes the coach had picked a different place.
"He's a fantastic guy and he's a fantastic coach, and I'll be honest, I'm sorry he's in the middle of this controversy," he said. "He doesn't deserve it."
Paintner said Burbach bought the kids dinner after every game, spending $1,000 of his own money. Paintner said Burbach also footed the bill to take the players on a trip to Mount Hood.
"Nobody asked him to do that," Paintner said. "He wasn't required to do that. He did that, he paid for all of it out of his own pocket."
Corbett Middle School Principal Phil Pearson said he was "shocked" when he learned of Burbach's venue choice for the team party late last week.
"The name itself is a clue enough for me that it's absolutely an inappropriate choice for a group of students from a school," Pearson said. "There's no gray area in this for me. Absolutely an inappropriate choice."
Pearson said he had never received a complaint about the coach, until parents called him about the proposed party at Hooters.
"That's not a team event. That's a tear-the-team-apart event," Pearson said.
Pearson said Burbach wasn't technically fired, because the season is already over, but he will not be asked to return next year.
"He's done coaching for us. He will not coach for us again," he said. "This is the last we'll see of Randy Burbach as a coach at Corbett."
The coaching position is a volunteer one, but Pearson said the local boosters club paid Burbach a $500 stipend for his work this season.
Burbach said he's upset over some of the things being said about him.
"It hurts me deeply when I am accused of being, as I was, a purveyor of porn and a bad influence," he said. "That doesn't go down easy and you don't roll that off easy."
Burbach says he's standing his ground on the issue, because that's what he's taught his boys to do.
"We've had talks about what kind of man do you want to be," said Burbach.
"I've taught them to take responsibility for your actions, and to be accountable for your decisions. If you believe in something you should stand up for it and be accounted for. Now I'm being tested, and I can't very well having preached to my boys this mantra for four months, in the face of loosing my job, back down."
Hooters released a statement Tuesday saying the company will pick up the tab for the Corbett football team's party Saturday at the Jantzen Beach restaurant in Portland. Hooters will also donate $1,000, along with 20 percent of sales Saturday at that location, to the Corbett Booster Club.
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