After 11 seasons leading the team, Bedford High School football coach Jeff Wood was fired from his job earlier this week for reportedly posting a sarcastic reaction on social media after family members of a former player who took his own life asked him to leave the young man’s funeral.
According to a report from the Toledo Blade, the parents of University of Toledo freshman Maison Hullibarger specifically requested Wood not to attend their son’s funeral because of how the coach allegedly bullied Maison and his brothers during his time coaching them. While Jeff and Linda Hullibarger explained that none of the verbal insults Wood purportedly slung at their sons were individually “glaring,” the bereaved parents said that the comments were “cutting” enough to have an effect on the boys.
“[Wood] didn’t treat him well in life,” Linda Hullibarger told the Toledo Blade.
“Why would he be there when he’s not with us? We knew [Maison] did not want him there. He would not want him there.”
Despite being asked not to attend Maison Hullibarger’s funeral, Wood reportedly showed up, and was asked to leave by Maison’s older brother Lee, who told his former coach he wasn’t welcome at the service. This prompted a Facebook post from Wood, who expressed his disappointment at being disinvited from the funeral.
“If you need someone to blame [for Maison’s death], I’m your man. I’m your fall guy,” Wood wrote, as quoted by the Toledo Blade.
“This is how society is when things go not as planned, we blame others for our own shortcomings. This tragedy is not about me or you. It’s about looking in the mirror as a human being and being real honest with yourself.”
Although Jeff Wood deleted the post soon after he shared it, the Toledo Blade noted that many people, including the Hullibargers, were disgusted by the message. On Monday, it was confirmed by Bedford Schools superintendent Carl Shultz that Wood had been relieved from his duties as Bedford High School football coach, as Shultz issued a statement explaining that the district is “thoroughly investigating” the allegations surrounding Wood’s behavior during and after Maison Hullibarger’s funeral.
“[Wood] is no longer affiliated in any way with the Bedford football program,” Shultz confirmed.
“The district holds all of its staff to the highest standards of professionalism, as personal and professional integrity is the core of our service to our community.”
As previously reported by the Detroit Free Press, Jeff Wood was not the only person at the funeral who had offended the Hullibarger family with his words or actions. Linda Hullibarger accused Rev. Don LaCuesta, who delivered the service at her son’s funeral, of saying hurtful things about Maison, “pretty much calling him a sinner” for talking his own life and suggesting he wouldn’t go to heaven. Mrs. Hullibarger added that her husband Jeff was so upset by LaCuesta’s sermon that he personally asked him to stop, only for the priest to continue “denouncing” the way in which Maison died.
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