Reaction to the News: Zeman should have stayed

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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.


4 Responses to “Reaction to the News: Zeman should have stayed”

  1. Lester Granger on May 10th, 2010 1:09 pm

    I agree with Mark that getting rid of Zeman was wrong. Why? Because I had him as a coach for two years, and he was not only a good coach, but a good person and friend. I was shocked when I heard that Zeman had left, because he was so good at what he did. I also agree that when Zeman was here some people didn’t like him, and to me the people who didn’t like him didn’t really know what type of person he was. He was a person who loved Riverside Brookfield and he loved helping kids and pointing them in the right directions.
    Even though he made a lot of money, that shouldn’t matter to other people, that is his business and his money. He works hard for it and he always put time in to make his team better. That’s why so many teams he coached here went far in the playoffs because of his coaching skills and hard work.
    Honestly to me I think as well there will be no other athletic director like Zeman. He was a dictated person in what he did. Ever teacher and coach liked him and he knew a lot of people and different coaches far from Riverside Brookfield. I am a lucky person because I was one of the kids who experienced what kind of coach he was and how good of a person he was.

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  2. Ivan Jukic on May 10th, 2010 1:12 pm

    I softly agree that Otto Zeman should not have been fired from athletic director at Rb.
    I personally never spoke or hardly even seen Otto Zeman, from what I heard he was a great coach of football and athletic director of Rb. I believe that RB took the wrong steps in firing Zeman.
    But the one thing that comes to my mind when I hear the name Otto Zeman is the amount of money that he gave to each sport. I personally played soccer for RB and in the past they struggled for money. Until this year the coaches had to request many times for a much better budget. Before, the soccer team could only buy a couple legit soccer balls and now this year they bought more soccer balls but less quality. I personally have nothing against Zeman and I fully understand that it must be hard to control the budget but it would have helped if he gave every sport a more equal amount of money. From what I understand football got a majority of the money which I can see why because they need all the gear to keep them safe from any injury. I thought that Zeman stepped it up last year by squeezing in some money which can help any sport by a very large margin.
    I believe that RB should have taken a better look at firing Otto Zeman. RB should take in consideration next time to see how the sports are doing and how well the sports director is really doing.

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  3. Ian Robertson on May 10th, 2010 1:12 pm

    First off, let me say that I totally agree with your article. I also played for him in football and Coach Zeman has done such a great job with being the athletic director. There has came more than one point in time where Mr. Zeman has really grinding my gears but he made me the man who am I am today.
    He has being doing this job for quite along time and the fact that the way the school board rudely cut him off is an absolute shame. For all that I know, he didn’t even get a “thanks for the last some odd years that he was AD.”
    The number of Conference and Regional titles along with the amount of All State athletes are absolutely outstanding. Very few people at RB don’t play sports and that’s very good as far as being an athletic school.
    I think it was great how he tried to solve this problem by letting up a $10,000 decrease on next year’s annual salary. And they still declined? COME ON!!!! They should of saw that this occupation is much more to him and kept him for a little bit longer. The school board is full with adults and its time for them to act like it.

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  4. Josh on May 21st, 2010 1:00 am

    I am going to have to disagree with this. I believe that it is actually going to benefit RB that Mr. Zeman is gone. Sure hes been there for so long and has accomplished many things but everyone has a time where they have to go. Mr. Zeman cannot stay athletic director all his life. His main focus was on football and really didn’t care much about other sports. There were fifteen men that wanted to start a gymnastics team this year and they were all shot down by Zeman. What was the reason? Because of “insurance.” The chances of someone breaking a bone are greater in football than in gymnastics. The money should be evenly distributed between all sports and football should not be the only sport that gets all the advantages. By getting a new athletic director we are giving more chances to other sports in the school and not revolving simply around football. This will better the chances of other sports to win future conferences and may be even send students to state. An athletic director has to follow all sports and understand how each is played and i believe by having one that understands that, we can make RB athletics go beyond what they have gone in the past.

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Reaction to the News: Zeman should have stayed