Marcus Ellis will step down as DCPS athletic director

June 24, 2011

Marcus Ellis will step down as athletic director of D.C. Public Schools effective July 1, according to sources familiar with the situation, forcing the system to search for its fourth athletic director in 40 months.

Ellis, 34, revealed his plans Thursday afternoon to his staff in the office of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association, according to sources, who asked not be identified because no official announcement had been made.

The move was not a surprise, according to sources familiar with the situation, who said Ellis was not in the plans of D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. The D.C. Council confirmed Henderson’s permanent appointment this week, after she served the past nine months on an interim basis.

Ellis, who said he was on sick leave Thursday and Friday, acknowledged he may not be on the same page as Henderson.

“I have received nothing in writing that I am no longer the director of athletics for DCPS,” Ellis said Thursday evening. “But if the chancellor decides to make a change, then I respect her choice.”

Ellis, who took over in August 2009, had been making efforts to expand athletic opportunities for girls in the DCIAA, after the National Women’s Law Center raised concerns about potential violations of Title IX, the federal law mandating gender equity. Ellis conducted the first survey of interest among female students this spring at seven high schools, with the intent to poll the rest of the schools in the fall, and offer new girls’ sports programs next year.

He also made it a priority to revise the system’s eligibility rules – including overturning a controversial provision that allowed high school students five years to complete their four seasons of athletic eligibility, which lingered in the DCPS Office of General Counsel for more than eight months until it was sent on to the D.C. Council last month.

Ellis, though, was criticized by some last November for his handling of an investigation into the Ballou football team following the Knights’ victory in the DCIAA semifinals. Ballou was ultimately ruled ineligible for the Turkey Bowl, and its appeal was denied less than 24 hours before kickoff of the Thanksgiving championship game.

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