CEDAR RAPIDS — Tony Lombardi has vacated his post as head varsity football and baseball coach at Cedar Rapids Washington. He said he did so on his own.
“Nobody asked me or told me to do this,” Lombardi told The Gazette. “It’s just time.”
Lombardi, 51, resigned Thursday morning after seven years.
“I’ve got five children who are extremely active,” he said. “A normal day in our household consists of two different soccer practices and two different baseball practices. My wife (Kari) runs a volleyball club …
“It’s just far too much pressure to do all this stuff as a family, and for me to be the varsity coach of two sports … Is this a hard day? Yes. But I think our family’s future is better with this decision.”
Lombardi will coach the Warriors this baseball season, then cease his role as a head coach. He said he will continue as a physical education teacher and assistant track coach, and said Kari will continue as the school’s head volleyball coach.
“We’re not leaving,” he said. “This is our home, and this is where our kids have grown up.”
Lombardi said his decision was not tied to an ongoing investigation with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. Lombardi is accused of bullying athletes, and Washington Principal Ralph Plagman accused of not properly handling complaints and concerns with Lombardi.
“All of these allegations are false,” Lombardi said. “I am demanding, but I’ve never mistreated a kid.”
Kathi Jensen, the woman who filed a formal complaint sparking the Board’s investigation, laughed when told of that comment.
“I just think that’s a joke,” she said. “Yes, he has. This is just another delusional moment from Coach Lombardi.”
Jensen said she went forward with the complaint on behalf of several Washington parents who could not, for fear of retaliation against their children.
She said she and those parents felt an investigation of Lombardi by the Cedar Rapids Community School District last spring following a filed formal complaint was not handled properly.
Jensen cited Lombardi’s suspension for the final football game of the 2012 season and an unspecified recent incident with the baseball team as further reasons for Lombardi needing to stop coaching at Washington.
The coach had a verbal incident with a Cedar Rapids Prairie player following their football game in late October, which led to his one-game suspension.
Jensen said her son, a 2010 Washington graduate, was among targets of a verbal assault from Lombardi after an incident at the school’s gymnasium in the spring of 2010. She said she feels Plagman should lose his job for “covering things up for these last seven years.”
“I think (Lombardi’s resignation) is a good thing,” she said.
Other parents don’t agree with that. Caryn Davis, the mother of former Washington all-stater and University of Iowa wide receiver Keenan Davis, said she cried when she first learned Lombardi was resigning.
She noted all the good the coach has done, including for disadvantaged kids – picking them up early in the morning and driving them to Washington for weight-lifting sessions. She criticized Jensen and “the families hiding behind her.”
“Coach Lombardi is not the bully here,” Davis said. “Kathi Jensen is the bully … If what she has done isn’t bullying, what is?”
Lombardi posted a 51-25 football record at Washington with five playoff appearances. The 2012 team was 3-6 and missed the playoffs.
His first baseball season netted a 13-26 mark.
He has coached football at the prep, collegiate and professional levels, with his previous tenure at Hinsdale (Ill.) Central ending acrimoniously.
Lombardi was fired there in 2006 after a highly successful three-year run at the school due to using “harsh language” in front of players and assistant coaches and for not substituing more reserve players in games.
He sued the school for breach of contract and was awarded $10,000 in an out-of-court settlement in 2007.
At the time he was hired at Washington, Plagman said the coach’s dismissal at Hinsdale Central was “immense good fortune for Washington High School.”
Lombardi’s salary, according to the Cedar Rapids Community School District, is $96,598, including compensation for his coaching duties.