Coach suspended after holding team meeting in Marcellus cemetery

Marcellus junior varsity football team coach Jim Marsh told players and parents that he regrets bringing students to the St. Francis Cemetery for a motivational speech after their loss to Skaneateles last Saturday. In a letter, Marsh apologized for "having offended anyone by my unfortunate decision."

Marcellus Superintendent Craig Tice said that Marsh's intention may have been to inspire students, but instead he made them uncomfortable.

"This spur of the moment decision to use the cemetery as a location coupled with the unplanned change in itinerary on the return trip caused more confusion than understanding among the adolescent players who were in 9th and 10th grade," said Tice.

Marsh offered to resign after parents complained about players being told to lie down in the cemetery. But Tice said he asked Marsh, who is also a teacher, how he could best help the team. Marsh will be suspended for two of Marcellus' four remaining games. He has decided to donate his pay from those final two games to the St. Francis Church for the upkeep of the cemetery.

Tice said he hopes everyone can move past one incident that showed a "lack of judgment."

"Everybody can make a mistake but we've got to move forward. It's truly about the team and the players so lets get this behind us and move forward," he said.

Marsh met with parents and players Thursday night at the high school. Tice said parents felt the coach had taken responsibility for the mistake. The issue has divided neighbors in the Marcellus community over the past few days, and tonight many hoped coach Marsh and the town could move past it.

"Twenty, twenty-five, thirty years ago people would have brushed this off, no big deal - I see what the guy is doing," said Anton Kowlaski. "Nowadays, it's just not proper anymore." Kowalski said respected Marsh as a fellow coach and hoped Marsh would continue to coach football.

Tice said that Marsh would keep his job as varsity basketball coach and English teacher.