The firing of Wauwatosa West boys basketball coach Mike Landisch became official Wednesday, ending a 16-day debate with the administration while upsetting Trojans fans.
Landisch was officially told Wednesday by the administration that he will not have his contract renewed to coach next season.
Landisch, who is recovering from a well-publicized battle with cancer, is coming off one of the best seasons in the school's recent history, as the Trojans won the regional championship for the first time since 1996.
At the end of March, Landisch was initially given an option to resign, take a leave of absence or not have his contract renewed.
According to Landisch, he was told by the administration that the players weren't getting a positive experience. He was told his health had changed his demeanor.
Reaction from parents and former and current players who returned phone calls about the firing were littered with words like "devastating, shocking," while words like "family, committed, great experience, cared about the players off the court, brought the team together" were phrases that kept coming up when they were asked about Landisch's relationship with his players.
"It was an absolutely great experience playing for him," said former player Sam Krenzien, who is now playing soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. "He always had our best interests at hand.
"He cared for us more than just on the court. If we had things off the court, we could go to him. Playing for him was more than just basketball."
"I was pretty shocked," said former guard A.J. Krause, who is now attending Waukesha County Technical College. "I especially didn't expect this after having such a great season."
The Trojans finished the 2010-11 season with an 11-6 Woodland Conference record and a 15-11 overall mark. They struggled in Landisch's first year, finishing 5-16 overall and 4-12 in league play. But in his last three seasons as head coach, Tosa West compiled a .667 winning percentage (33-17) in conference play and a .583 winning percentage (42-30) overall.
"I'm a cancer survivor," said Bill Domina, father of Joe, who played in only eight of 24 games. "I went through some very difficult times. I felt the kids grew a lot as a team.
"I have a lot of respect for coach Landisch. I know it wasn't easy. He had difficult times, but he was committed to his team. We wish him nothing but the best."
Barbara Krause, who had two kids go through the program, A.J. and Tyler, also had praise for Landisch.
"We're behind Mike, and it's not right what they are doing," she said. "The way he treats the kids, he has done an awesome job. They both said coach Landisch has made them men, not just basketball players. I disagree with them (administration). He has done a great job."
On Wednesday the administration gave him the option of taking a leave of absence for a year and having one of his assistants coach the team. If the assistants wanted to, they could keep Landisch on as an assistant coach, and he could then apply for the head coaching job next year.
"To me that is not considered a leave of absence," Landisch said. "So I told them that I do not feel as though I should have to resign or take a leave based off my health and performance, so they are not renewing my contract next year."
Tyler Krause, one of the key senior leaders on this team, along with Jarvis Ashley and Kieviante Love, said Landisch was up front with his players about playing time, which might have offended some players and parents.
"One of the things I like about him the most is he keeps it real," Tyler said. "We were not as deep as we were last year. We had between five and eight guys who were going to play a lot. He was upfront with the team."
Ashley, the team's go-to-guy in the final minutes, also was shocked by the timing.
"Why would they get rid of coach since Tosa West is on the rise?" he asked. "We went the furthest (since 1996)."
"It's like a family. I felt you could tell our coaches just about anything and they would fix it as a team. We had team dinners. Everybody on the team was all close, real close."
Both Principal Frank Calarco and Athletic Director Nathan DeLany had no comment on the firing.
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