A former National Coach of the year in track and field and members of the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame has been removed mid-season as coach of the Marcellus High School boys and girls cross country team. When the teams compete Wednesday afternoon against Solvay Oscar Jensen will not be on the sidelines. Girls outdoor coach Ted McCrone will lead the Mustangs for the remainder of the fall season.
Jensen commented Wednesday afternoon telling CNYCentral.com he was "hit hard" by the decision to immediately terminate him as cross country coach.
Coach Ted McCrone met with the team Tuesday and held practice. He said the decision was made during last night's school board meeting. McCrone could not explain why the change was made. He said, "Just trying to make the transition as easy as possible for the kids."
Jensen made his mark coaching track and field and cross country at Liverpool High School from 1963 to 1996. After a brief retirement he coached the same sports at Baldwinsville High and later Marcellus. His combined winning percentage over 53 years is over 90 percent.
More than twenty of his former athletes at Marcellus have sent a letter to the Marcellus School Board asking them to reconsider the district's decision. In the letter Curt Bell comments on Coach Jensen's remarkable record of success: "He did this not by running his athletes into the ground, or caring only about the results on the cross-country course, but by taking the time to nurture his teenager athletes into self-confident, responsible, and motivated people," wrote Bell.
"To Coach Jensen, raising a team of upstanding human beings, in the classroom, outside world, and on the course, was always more important than fielding an all-state cross-country team. However, due to his immense experience and knowledge based on over thirty years (to that point) of experience, Coach Jensen knew that building these qualities would lead to success on the cross-country course, as well as when we all went home at night after practice or a race."
When Jensen was reached last night he told CNYCentral he would be coaching through the end of the season. He did not wish to comment on any conflict that was leading to the change. He did refer to the winning record he has had at three different schools.
On Wednesday, Marcellus School Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice said it is the school's policy not to comment on personnel matters.
"While unfortunate, this does not take away from his past accomplishments and contributions to the program and helping student athletes in Marcellus," said Tice
The Marcellus Cross Country teams have a home meet against Solvay High School Wednesday afternoon.