West Springfield's Jim Jensen, suspended from his head football coaching duties for seven days by Principal George Stepp for placing a tape recorder in the locker room of visiting Lake Braddock prior to the teams' game last week, resigned the position yesterday.
Jensen's nine-year tenure as a physical education instructor at the Fairfax County high school is not affected by his decision.
The coaching resignation followed a meeting between Stepp and the superintendent's office, after which sources say Jensen was given the alternative of resigning or being fired.
"I can only say that when Mr. Stepp returned to the building following the meeting with the superintendent late last night, he met with Coach Jensen. At the conclusion of that meeting, he resigned," said Jack Dominie, assistant, of student activities and school spokesman.
"Right now, everyone is upset -- the other coaches, the players and the community. Because of everything else that has happened (Oakton forfeiting five victories because of an ineligible player), we have a chance to win the Northern District and we plan to go out and do our best. Our concern right now is our players and we want them to do their best in the game tonight (last night against Chantilly, and West Springfield won, 23-3, to gain the playoffs)."
School was closed in Fairfax County yesterday because of teacher staff meetings, so the immediate impact of Jensen's departure was not evident. Neither Stepp nor Jensen was available for comment.
Bill Hanley, who has been an assistant coach under Jensen for eight years was named interim head coach for the rest of the year.
"The kids are highly supportive of Coach Jensen and are very upset over what has happened," Hanley said. "We've been together a long time. This staff works together and we think alike. We're all upset but we have a commitment to these kids and we plan to go right on with the program."
Jensen was suspended by his principal when Lake Braddock Coach Stan Kemp reported a tape recorder was found in his team's locker room prior to their game last week. Kemp said the tape was running and much of their pregame conversation had been recorded. Kemp turned in the recorder at halftime and Jensen was suspended Monday after admitting he had placed the device in the locker room.
"He told me it was not to learn our plays but to see if our kids or our coaches were talking about unethical play on the field," Kemp said.
"The schools have had a few problems in the past and Jensen told me this was his way of seeing who was the cause. I understand he had a choice of quitting or being fired. Putting myself in that position I would have resigned, too, if I was thinking about my future. Everyone involved has to just go on from here. He (Jensen) is suffering for what he did. As the incident has been resolved, I guess justice was done."
W. T. Woodson had apparently won a berth in the four-team Northern Region playoffs before Oakton reported an ineligible player Thursday. The Cougars were forced to forfeit five games, including one to West Springfield, which boosted the Spartans into contention for the district title. "We are in accordance with the Virginia High School League rules and we are going on as planned," Dominie said. "Jensen's resignation had nothing at all to do with Oakton's forfeiture of games."
Few Northern Virginia coaches were surprised at Jensen's resignation.
"Regardless of the reason, he was wrong, wrong, wrong," said one coach.