"King's West lets AD, hoops coach Oliver go"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 4:28 PM
"Tom Oliver had just moved his family from Lake Tahuya to Chico, along the No. 7 fairway at Kitsap Golf and Country Club.To play golf? Hardly. I'm embarrassing, Oliver said of his links acumen. The Olivers moved, he said, to be closer to King's West School, where Oliver worked for a decade as a teacher, athletic director, coach and transportation coordinator.Hey, it was, what, 30 seconds away? Oliver asked. We bought it as a fixer-upper, but it was so convenient.Earlier this week, though, Oliver was told in sudden fashion that his services no longer were required by the school, which is owned and operated by Seattle-based Crista Ministries.According to Crista Superintendent Mike Martin, Oliver's contract for the 2000-2001 school year was not signed and delivered in a timely fashion.Oliver, contacted at home Friday morning, said school employees have 15 days to review, sign and return their contracts. He admitted his contract went back to Crista outside that 15-day window.I was coaching our (King's West girls basketball team) at a summer camp. I was gone for a week, he said. When I got back, I signed it and sent it in.Oliver said he was called to meet with Martin and King's West principal Nick Sweeney Thursday, and was told there of his dismissal.That (the tardy contract) was the reason they gave me, he said. I tried to explain why it was late, but their minds were made up.Oliver said he suspected that the real reason for his dismissal was budgetary, a suspicion Martin confirmed during a telephone interview Friday.Enrollment at King's West is lower than budget, and we've been forced to take some steps to reduce costs, Martin said, adding that Sweeney would take over Oliver's duties as athletic director and that his other duties would be reassigned among remaining staff.We're having a reduction in force, Martin said, and (Oliver's) position was not directly in the classroom.That reduction blindsided Oliver, a five-time Sea-Tac League Athletic Director of the Year and seven-time league girls basketball Coach of the Year.I was shocked. My family is shocked. Our life is turned upside down, Oliver said. I think (returning the contract late) gave them the opportunity to cut back.They knew it was my intention to return. I turned down two other job offers to stay put, he added, noting that his three children all attend King's West and his son, Ryan, has a summer job there.It's not just a Tom Oliver issue, he said. It's a family issue, and it hurts. I've been on the ground floor there, since the beginning. I made a commitment.I love Crista, but I feel this situation was not handled fairly.Calls to Sweeney and former King's West principal Ken Friesen were referred to the Crista superintendent's office.Oliver's Warrior girls basketball teams have gone to four state Class B tournaments in the last five years and won seven Sea-Tac League championships. He also coached three league volleyball champions after joining the King's West staff in 1992, and had three district qualifiers each in basketball and volleyball under his belt from a 1985-88 stint at Bremerton Christian.Oliver said the timing of his ouster by King's West makes it difficult for him to find work for the coming school year, since most schools already have completed their hiring.It's going to be tough, he said, but our desire is to stay in this community. We just have to trust in a higher power to take care of us."