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Posted on Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Ex-NFL player Lamanzer Williams is Ypsilanti schools 1st external hire

By Danielle Arndt

A former NFL player and Willow Run and Eastern Michigan University graduate is the first external candidate to receive a job offer from the Ypsilanti Community Schools.

Lamanzer Williams will return to the Ypsilanti area to help build the new athletic tradition at the consolidated district as YCS athletic director and high school assistant principal.

The move surprised current athletic directors, they said.


Lamanzer Williams

Ypsilanti Community Schools will formally hire Williams on July 1, the official launch date of the consolidated district. Legally, employee contracts for the new district cannot be entered into until that date. Voters authorized merging the existing Willow Run Community Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools in the November general election.

Intent-to-hire letters also were extended to 171 Ypsilanti and Willow Run teachers Friday. Williams is the first external candidate the new district has offered a position to.

Four internal candidates, including current Ypsilanti High School Co-principal Aaron Rose, YHS Athletic Director Jon Zajac and Willow Run High School Athletic Director Matt Seidl, applied for the position and were interviewed by a two-member team before being turned down for the job.

Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel, who also will serve as the YCS superintendent until July 30, 2015, and current Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin both interviewed the internal candidates.

"We decided to do a targeted recruitment for an external search," Menzel said.

"We had many fine candidates for the position, but we felt Mr. Williams possessed an edge with his education and experience, that spans from being a professional athlete to a high school dean," Menzel said in a statement.

"He has many strong qualities that will make him a good fit for the type of athletic program we plan to build at Ypsilanti Community Schools."

Menzel said a salary for Williams has not been finalized yet, but it will be similar to the base salary the Board of Education set for assistant principals in the new district: $83,000.

When asked about the reasons the internal candidates were not selected, Menzel told he would not speak to the individual strengths and weaknesses of the internal candidates, but said the decision was made based on a set of criteria established for the position.

He said among the criteria were evaluating how the candidates would carry out the strategic plan and vision for co-curricular activities and athletics that was developed by the various advisory committees for the new district.

Menzel and Martin also looked at things such as processes for evaluating coaches and measuring coach effectiveness, reaching cultural diversity among the athletics program and engaging the community in partnerships to make the athletics program strong.

Menzel said there was no rubric or hiring guidelines created for the athletic director/assistant principal position like there was for the teachers and principals positions for the new district.

"It wasn't as structured as that," Menzel said of the AD/AP position compared to the teachers and principals. "The volume was really small. It was only a handful of interviews so it was a more conventional interview process… It was a formal process. The questions were the same for each candidate."

He explained that Martin, who will serve as one of YCS' two associate superintendents under Menzel, was included on the interview team because organizationally, Menzel anticipates the athletic director will report to Martin in the consolidated district.

Menzel said he is close to being able to release details on how YCS' central administration will be structured, including the roles Martin and current Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki will play as associate administrators. Menzel said officials are waiting on confirmation from school attorneys on contract language. He said he expects to be able to reduce expenses in central administration by about $500,000 under the soon-to-be announced organizational structure.

Current Ypsilanti and Willow Run athletic directors Zajac and Seidl were surprised by the decision to hire Williams. Zajac said about 10 days after he and the other internal candidates interviewed, they were told they did not meet the new district's qualifications and officials would be doing a targeted search.

"I was kind of shocked," Seidl said. "When I went into the office, I kind of expected to get that position, to be honest. And I'm sure the other three did, too. But I was pretty confident that it was going to fall my way.

"Not to be cocky, I just did, and then I didn't get it, and I didn't ask a lot of questions. I just respectfully said OK, and kept doing what I'm doing."

Mezel said Williams and one other external candidate, whom he declined to name, had submitted a resume and other application materials to Ypsilanti Community Schools earlier this year, even though a formal job posting was never advertised. Menzel said these candidates were interviewed and Williams stood out due to his experience at the high school level and his commitment to being a life-long learner.

Zajac and Seidl both have been actively involved in the planning process for the new district's co-curricular activities and athletics programs. They served on the advisory committees that developed the strategic plans for both of these areas, as well as served on the mascot and naming advisory committee.

"It's frustrating and disappointing for sure," Zajac said. "There's not much you can really say about it. I thought between myself, Matt and Aaron, they had three really solid, good candidates."

Zajac has worked for Ypsilanti Public Schools for 10 years, primarily as an elementary physical education teacher. He also applied to be a teacher in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district, but received a "no" letter. So he will be job-hunting, he said.

Zajac and Seidl have been interviewing candidates for various coaching positions throughout the past couple of weeks, despite knowing they would not be hired as the athletic director for the new district.

"We've kind of gone above and beyond in that regard. It hasn't been easy," Zajac said.

The coach recommendations will be given to Williams, and Williams will have one last interview with the finalists to make sure that working relationship will be a good fit for the district, Menzel said.

"If what they're trying to do is trying to find the best person, maybe going externally is OK. You want to find the best person. If it's not one of us four, then all the power to you," Seidl said.

Sports reporter Kyle Austin contributed to this report.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, May 10, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Hey dwill42, listen to what I am telling you. With Lamanzer Williams as the AD and maybe even the football coach you are going to have a real mess at the new YCS. Lamanzer can not coach football, either can Rufus Pipkins or any body else he will bring in as part of his joke of a staff. The YCS people hired Lamanzer and hoping to impress the community but all they have done is put us in a bigger hole. It is going to be real bad!


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 6:03 a.m.

Seriouly my comment was removed because insaid I was ashamed the people were upset at L hiring? Anyway last I checked Willow Run is the only 1 of the 3 schools with a championship in a major sport I love Ypsi High I started there but I cut my teeth at The Run I also would like you to check your aademics again willow runs programs run by rufus pipkins has sent more players to college this last 8 years than ypsi has get ur facts straight both programs haven't done so well in the past the funny thing is 80% of ypsi's athletes left for lincoln and most of willow runs athletes choose lincoln or bellville so get it right please school of choice tore up the spprts in the area


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

He worked at Willow Run? Why isn't that unique item mentioned in the article. Seems at least if not more relevant than the NFL reference.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Could not be more elated to learn that Matt Seidl was not hired as the athletic director. Seidl has been a teacher at Willow Run High School for several, several years. He was also a coach there back in the 90's. Once Seidl no longer coached at Willow Rungh High School, I never saw his face at one athletic event, and I am a huge supporter of Willow Run Athletics. That in and of itself speaks volumes.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

That in and of itself speaks nothing about the situation. Get a clue!

Real Talk

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

I respect your opinion. But do not sleep on the fact that Seidl was Willow Run's best basketball coach in the last 25 years and was coaching elsewhere since then. He also has three children who are very active in sports and so he was being a supportive parent. I would also say that he has attended many more events than Williams, no doubt about that at all. If your not a fan of Seidl and do not think he did a superb job this year at Willow Run, you are just misinformed. Either that or your still upset about him making positive changes that got rid of some bad apples.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Since Mr. Williams was fired by Willow Run and Inkster, it makes you wonder if Mr. Menzel is ignoring these facts or if he did not know about them? This is embarrassing for us who live in Ypsilanti and sent our children to Ypsilanti schools. I was hopeful yet skeptical that the merger would work. Decisions like this make me doubtful.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Lamanzer Williams was FIRED from Willow Run. How can you hide that?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Why was my post removed that stated Lamanzer Williams is not qualified for the position, Charles Ramsey was the 2nd external candidate, and all of the STINKS of impropriety?! Has any reporter done any true investigation outside of talking to Menzel?

Chad Williams

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

I mean really. WR has been trash in like every sport. Ypsi has been better but nothing spectacular. I mean its not like everyone is acting these are two great programs. If your going to start over new why keep the old. For example, for the longest WR has had the worst grades in the area , you can probably say the state as well. Saying that when comes to hiring teachers why do you think more were choosen from ypsi? Why would you keep tge same teachers who have failed students. I can say not all students can be saved, thats just reality but something has to change around here and the education system is one of them. Thats first and foremost secondly as do schools in In Ann Arbor, Saline, and Chelsea to name a few, they gain revenue from sports. Hell how many wins do you think a team football team can win with 25 players? How many people are gonna show up gor a 25 man team losing every single year. Bring a successful face to the students. Yeah he may have not have been a nfl guy for long, but just getting there is not something that is just as easy as 1-2-3. It takes a certain amount of discipline and determination that WR for sure has been lacking. Its plenty of talent between ypsilanti and willow run to make things work but change is all apart of proccess.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Danielle, I agree with Rob, why not do some real investigative reporting. FOIA the documents of Lamanzer's termination from coaching at Willow Run as well as his educational transcripts/degrees/credentials. The public deserves to know who will be "leading" their children next year. Also, can you tell us if the Band Director from Ypsi High, the one with the national award, was rehired? The community is hearing NO and that would be the nail in the coffin.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

Odd. You can look up any certified teacher to see what their credentials are in the State of Michigan using this tool: I wonder if Lamanzer Williams goes by another name on his certifications, or is certified in another state, because "Lamanzer Williams" does not come up when searching for his credentials. It's hard to imagine that the new consolidated district would hire someone without teaching experience to be Assistant Principal/Athletic Director.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Isn't it ridiculous? WOW! Same old crooked ways, and it is a shame because this district really had a chance to do it right- They dropped the ball big time!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

This is an obvious case of racial discrimination. This hire will haunt YCS.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

I think there were several racial discrimintaion hires in this district. I think they should ban together and file a suit!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 9:35 a.m.

Sounds like a great hiring decision. What concerns me here is that the article mentions that Ypsi is hiring TWO "associate superintendents". I thought they were trying to save money?

Basic Bob

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

Two individuals in the entire school district have guaranteed contracts - the former superintendents. They will be paid regardless of what their positions are. But they can be put to work and then the board does not need to hire someone else to do the jobs they used to delegate. It would make sense to make Lisiscki an elementary school principal since she was good at that.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:26 a.m.

And he hasn't won either. 8-10 in Kzoo and bailed from Inkster and a promotion. And he took a demotion to go to Holland, where he went 0-9 the year after they won a district title and had a couple playoff berths in their recent past. And now a promotion after an 0-9 season? The citizen in me is annoyed at the process and the lack of choosing one of the successful AD's from the merged schools. The football fan of 3 decades who has never heard of this guy is just confused that his career is going upward while his record shows he's not even a good football coach, let alone an AD, a postion he has very little experience at. Muskegeon, Kzoo, Inkster, Holland, and here in 5 years. By the way, this is what he said when he took the Holland job. "I have moved around a lot, but that stops here." My thought is that he probably said the same thing in Inkster too.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:38 a.m.

This says it all ---- "officials would be doing a targeted search." Why bother with interviewing the internal candidates. They had someone in mind right from the beginning. Of course, one of the most qualified for the AD position didn't get an interview because she didn't qualify as an AP. Even though the advisory group's recommendation (which Zajac and Seidl were apparently a part of) of a FT AD was approved by the board, Menzel chose to go against the Board's approval and post it as a dual position. This hasn't worked here before and won't again.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:10 a.m.

Kinda like how they did the superintendent search? Or the board selection?

Julia Herbst

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

I dont care who the heck Lamanzer Williams is, But Matt Seidl deserved this position more than any other candidate. He is the only leader who is not only a phenomenal coach, but also an amazing teacher. He could help those kids excell not only on the field, but also in the classroom, which is something both school districts have struggled with. I remember when I was at WR, they had to lower the required GPA for Football to 2.0 because our entire varsity team did not meet the normal 2.5-3.0 requirements. (This was before Seidl took over Athletic Director position). My heart aches for these students. Sad sad sad.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:35 a.m.

The good people from both communities are not buying it. The terms bamboozled, and trickery come to mind. When will the powers that be understand that it MUST always be about the children, in the classroom as well as on the playing fields.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

Menzel is clearly over his head. He may be able to run the show for WISD ... but when it comes to building the new district of YCS, Menzel either lacks the competency, is being exposed as being political over professional, or he just plain doesn't have the time to spend on YCS and is phoning it in, so to speak. Please please stop the "NFL Player" nonsense - this guy is an "NFL Player" in the same way that a student teacher would be "highly qualified". He just isn't that - he is something else. He was a good college player who washed out of the NFL, had a couple of job opportunities in the past few years and they didn't work out ... and then found *some* way to get a job in his ostensible home town. Please - let's be reporters Danielle and Kyle - and not simply repeat glorious nonsense announced by highly questionable leaders of a school district under construction.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

Kyle ... that qualification was pointed at directly by Sup. Menzel as one of the reasons for the hiring. And let's not call it a "short NFL career"... c'mon - you're a sports reporter. You know as well as anyone that a player that only appears in 2 NFL games in one year (likely the last 2 of the year, during meaningless competition) after likely spending time on the practice squad and maybe not even that (given the NFL Europe note)... that is not an NFL career. It is an attempted NFL career that failed. He MAY be a good AD and coach candidate ... but calling him an ex-NFLer is absurd. It paints the wrong picture, and you know it. The reason I'm making a big deal out of it, is specifically because Menzel calls that out as a differentiating factor. And it is amazingly misleading. He likely attended those post-Minnesota schools at the exact same time that these articles are giving him credit for being an NFL player.

Kyle Austin

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

Rob, you're right that his NFL career was short, but it was an NFL career nonetheless. Mentioning in coverage of his hiring he is a former NFL player isn't meant to insinuate that it's a qualification. It's mentioned it's a notable aspect of his background, and one that makes him unique from every other athletic director in the area.

tom swift jr.

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Here he is, pretty inarticulate, "you know".


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:31 a.m.

Only 15 "you know"s in less than 3 minutes!!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

Nothing wrong with this interview. I was thinking he was going to be some bumbling idiot. "inarticulate"...come on Swift. I also tracked Mr. Williams down and had a conversation with him directly. Much better than I thought based on all of these comments.

Kick the Can

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Does anyone in the new district know anything about athletics and what it takes to run a successful high school program? Apparently not. Lamanzer reached the highest level as a football player. But playing is much different than teaching and managing. He has done nothing to earn this job. Shame on you Mr. Menzel.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:09 a.m.

My mistake, he was the AD for Holland.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:04 a.m.

a.) He was a coach of an 0-9 team last year and has not run an entire athletic department. He has no experience for the position and they chose him over a couple qualified candidates with experience. While it is great for him that he got to wear a uniform in the NFL, something almost none of us have done, how does that qualify him to run the girls basketball team? Girls volleyball? Swimming, etc? b.) I'm not from around here originally, so I did not see his glory days at EMU. But in the 30 years of watching football and being a stat geek, this is the first I have ever heard of the guy.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

He appeared in two NFL games. He is being championed as somehow being successful in the same way Dedrick Martin was a few months ago. It is just marketing.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

Someone should be fired over this hire. Lamanzer Williams isn't even close to Matt Siedl when it comes to running a program, this is a dirty hire and somebody need to fess up and make it right. Siedl ain't going to say anything bad about Lamanzer because he used to coach him back in the day but this is dirty!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Dirty, dirty, dirty- Those teachers who were not hired back-good Riddance I say. Do you really want to be a part of a crook filled district?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Yes, this is very dirty! It is so irresponsible on the schools part. Its no wonder so many great teachers were fired. I feel terrible for all involved, especially the kids who will lose out. Very sad!

michael Limmer

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

Gee, I was kind of hoping that the first external hire would be a great teacher, with great credentials and results. Too much to ask for.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

dexterreader-I agree with you that typically districts do hire beginning teachers, however this is no typical situation. This was "supposed" to be a merger of two districts where hundreds of teachers are currently employed. The goal would be to rehire as many good teachers as possible, but that is not the case here-SAD!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

School districts will generally only hire entry-level candidates with bachelor's degrees because they do not want to pay the higher salary for someone with more credentials. Sad, but true.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:58 a.m.

They only want cheap teachers. Great teachers are a luxury they cannot afford when they are paying three superintendent salaries.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

I have no confidence in the people running this merger. Williams wouldn't be a good pick for the football coach let alone the AD job. He is a losing football coach, he went 0 for 9 at Holland last season and he went 2 for 7 at Inkster before that. I wonder if Menzel talked to the people at Holland or Inkster, I don't think he did, I think they think Williams is a big name and just settled on that. Big mistake.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:57 a.m.

The ineptitude is frightening. And it's interesting that they went outside of the district for this job when they had highly qualified internal candidates, but didn't go outside of the district for the superintendent job and chose the two people who drove the districts into near EM status and forced this merger upon us. The elections for the new board cannot come soon enough.