The Wekiva Mustangs played their first game without their head coach, Jeremiah Rodriguez-Schwartz, Friday night. The Mustangs lost to the Jones Tigers 68-42, but the reason Rodriguez-Schwartz was not on the sidelines is still in dispute.
According to Michael Ollendorff, the Media Relations Administrator for the Orange County Public Schools, it's simple.
"Former coach Rodriguez-Schwartz informed Principal Williams last Friday that he was resigning from Wekiva High School to accept a teaching position at a Middle School in the district," he wrote in an email to The Apopka Voice. "The official resignation was received on Monday, October 16, 2023, and was effective Tuesday, October 17th. Families at Wekiva were notified of the coach’s decision and informed that Coach Lamarcus Jackson and Coach Steve Brandenburg will assume the daily leadership duties in his absence."
According to Ollendorff, Rodriguez-Schwartz applied for and accepted a position as a math teacher at Meadowbrook Middle School the week of October 9th. He started at the new school last week, where he will continue to teach math.
Rodriguez-Schwartz received an annual salary of $50,925 at Wekiva High. His salary will remain the same at Meadowbrook Middle, but he will no longer receive a $442.65 per paycheck coaching stipend while he coached at Wekiva.
Kenisha Williams, Wekiva's principal, sent the following statement following Rodriguez-Schwartz's departure as head coach:
"On Friday, I received notification from Head Football Coach Jeremiah Rodriguez-Schwartz that he has accepted a middle school math teaching position within the district and will be leaving Wekiva High School. As a result of his new schedule, he will not be able to make it to practice in time to provide his support for our student athletes. He in turn has decided to resign his position with the team. In his absence, Coach Lamarcus Jackson and Coach Steve Brandenburg will assume the daily leadership duties, while I begin the search for a new coach who will lead the Mustangs into the future. Families, please know that this was unexpected and that we are working diligently to provide continued support for our student-athletes as this season nears an end. Thank you for your understanding and support of Wekiva High School."
But Rodriguez-Schwartz disputes what OCPS is alleging - that he resigned as coach.
“I came back out there just to show the boys that I didn’t quit,” he said to the Orlando Sentinel. "I’m not a quitter. I would never resign and had no reason to,” Rodriguez-Schwartz said. “I was fully invested in the program and building it up and trying to make it into a powerhouse. I was put in a position the day before the game (October 13th) where I could resign or be terminated, and that either way, it was my last game as head coach... so I was essentially fired.”
Currently, Wekiva is 4-5 on the year. They face the Apopka Blue Darters in their regular season finale on Friday, November 3rd.
Rodriguez-Schwartz's three-year record at Wekiva was 13-16. He was hired as Wekiva's head coach in January 2021. He took over a program that was on probation before he arrived.