Mannix About Manatee: So how did Joe Kinnan get in mess?

December 22, 2013 

Say it ain't so, Joe.

The headlines we've become accustomed to seeing about coach Joe Kinnan late in the year usually trumpet yet another deep state playoff run by his Manatee Hurricanes.

Not this past week.

These headlines are the unflattering kind about Kinnan facing a 10-day suspension after the Manatee School District's investigation of the former Hurricanes baseball coach, Dwayne Strong, and his alleged financial and ethical mismanagement of the program.

Kinnan is accused of lying during the inquest and faces additional allegations in the investigative report:

• Immorality.

• Misconduct in office.

• Incompetence.

• Gross insubordination.

• Willful neglect of duty.

Kinnan may have made mistakes in this baffling episode, but I'm skeptical of some findings.


Joe Kinnan?

Come on.

Kinnan will have an administrative hearing to refute the charges, and it promises to be a good fight.

While acknowledging in a statement he "could have been more diligent in my oversight and follow through" in supervising Strong, Kinnan challenges the findings as "far overreaching."

"I cannot abide and cannot more strongly disagree with any allegations or findings which wrongly characterize my conduct as intentional, misleading or dishonest, or that otherwise impugn my integrity," he said.

The issue has stoked passionate defense from Kinnan's legion of ardent supporters.

On the other hand, it has given schadenfreude -- delight at someone else's misfortune -- to those who are not fans of the coach or Manatee High.

Put aside the polemics for a moment.

This is about account

ability, an illusory and arbitrary concept under previous school district administrations.

Not this one.

If this administrative complaint involved an official, athletic or otherwise, at any other high school, most people around here would give it only passing interest.

But it's Joe Kinnan.

He is a larger-than-life presence in our community, a Florida Hall of Fame coach whose teams and accomplishments have made the name Manatee resonate statewide and nationally for years.

As such, Kinnan has some serious juice in this town.

Nevertheless, he is not immune to the rules and responsibilities that went with his role as athletic director, which he resigned from recently.

Kinnan has always had a reputation as an adroit administrator and business manager.

So how does Dwayne Strong coach an entire baseball season without the required certification on his watch?

It doesn't make sense.

The financial arrangement made with The Sandlot@5 Tools Baseball, Strong's business, so the Hurricanes could practice there raises more questions.

Former Manatee principal Robert Gagnon, already suspended without pay from the Rod Frazier case, also faces possible discipline for his part in the probe of the contract that benefited Strong.

Interestingly, Superintendent Rick Mills signed off on the deal.

Go figure.

What a mess.

Kinnan remains defiant.

The truth will come out, he said. Stay tuned.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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