Reaction to the News: Zeman should have stayed

Let’s get it out of the way now: I played football for Otto Zeman.

Most people will assume I hold a biased view before they even read this. I’m not writing this because he was my coach; I’m writing this because I believe the choice of the school board to remove him as athletic director was wrong.

When the name Otto Zeman is mentioned, two completely different emotions take place. You can best describe it as a love / hate relationship in this community.  Some have been asking for his removal for years, with his salary being a big factor. According to a recent article in the Riverside Brookfield Landmark, Zeman receives approximately $83,000 a year as an athletic director.

Comparatively, according to The Champion, a taxpayer watch dog web site, Zeman’s pay is lower than Lyons Township’s athletic director, along with the athletic directors from Hinsdale South, Morton, Fenton, Ridgewood and Elmwood Park. 

Despite all that, Zeman offered to lower his salary for next year’s pay. “I did offer to make a pay cut for next year, it was roughly around 10,000 dollars,” Zeman said in an exclusive interview with the Clarion.

Getting rid of Zeman now will only force the school to rehire a new athletic director for a salary that’s close to or higher than what Zeman is paid now.

Athletically we’re experiencing the most number of athletes trying out for sports than ever.

“At last year’s senior banquette we gave awards to 1115 athletes,” Zeman told the Clarion. “The highest ever.”

In those impressive 26 sports offered here, we have had six conference championships, six regional championships, and a second place finish at state for cheerleading all during this school year. Numerous athletes were awarded all state, and all state academic awards, all this with the spring sports still underway. 

All that in some way has to go through our athletic director. Whether it’s scheduling, fundraising, or even hiring the coaches that lead these teams to their achievements, Zeman has affected those seasons for the better.

Nonetheless the school board has still voted Zeman down as athletic director. I don’t understand the motivation behind this. It seems they’re trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

I can promise they will never find another unique individual who cares about Riverside Brookfield and its student athletes like Otto Zeman does.