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Posted on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

Whitmore Lake football coach Barry Pierson steps down, creating fifth vacancy in Washtenaw County

By Kyle Austin


Barry Pierson had a 4-23 record in three years at Whitmore Lake. file

Barry Pierson resigned as Whitmore Lake’s head football coach after the season, saying he could no longer afford to coach the struggling program after three years.

Pierson, who isn’t employed with the district and said he could no longer afford to rent an apartment nearby and continue as coach without a full-time job.

“I wasn’t making any money and paying to live there, and no money was being made on the side,” Pierson said. “I lose money on the year and I couldn’t afford to do it anymore.”

With Pierson stepping down, five Washtenaw County’s 12 head football coaching jobs are now available.

The Pioneer and Huron jobs both opened after Huron’s Cory Gildersleeve resigned in early November and Paul Test stepped down last week.

The Dexter job is also vacant, after Brian Baird resigned early in the season and Ryan Fisher coached on an interim basis the rest of the season

The new merged Ypsilanti-Willow Run school district will also be hiring a coach for its first season as a combined program in 2013, although current coaches Ra-mon Watkins at Ypsilanti and Rufus Pipkins at Willow Run are both expected to be in the running.

Pierson, 65, stepped down after his second straight 2-7 season. In his three years at the helm, Whitmore Lake went 4-23, including an 0-9 campaign in 2010.

“The program’s got a long ways to go,” Pierson said.

But Pierson said his decision to step down had less to do with performance and more to do with finances.

Pierson said the district originally planned to give him additional compensation, including having him do landscaping duties, but those opportunities never materialized. He estimates he lost $30,000 during his three years coaching.

Whitmore Lake athletic director Denise Kerrigan didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Throughout his three years, Pierson’s teams struggled with participation numbers. Last year, 33 players in grades 9-12 came out Whitmore Lake was only able to play one JV game as a result, playing the rest of the season solely as a varsity program.

Pierson said Whitmore Lake could have a hard time fielding a team next year.

“Our numbers are down, the willingness to participate just doesn’t seem to be there,” Pierson said. “I think everybody’s running into it.”

Pierson was a member of Michigan’s football team from 1967-69. His most famous moment came on Nov. 22, 1969, as Pierson intercepted three passes and returned a punt to set up a touchdown, helping the Wolverines beat top-ranked Ohio State.

Pierson said he will return to St. Ignace, his hometown. His wife owns multiple businesses on nearby Mackinac Island.

He said he didn’t rule out returning to coaching in some capacity.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.


John Hubbard

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Whitmore Lake had been very successful over the past 15 years in football, numerous conference championships and playoff appearances including a district title under former coach Ed Schindler. The lack of numbers the other commenters speak of were created under Coach Barry Pierson. Even though Pierson played under Bo Schembechler, he is not Bo.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

ya , Barry is a great person. some people feed off his energy and his morals. he will always do good.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Barry Pierson was fighting an uphill battle that he had little chance of winning. With so many activities drawing on the students time, Whitmore Lake had a hard time fielding just enough players to hold a scimmage. For some reason football was not on the radar scope of many students at the school. Whitmore doesn't have a large student body to draw from. The only solution to the problem, in my opinion, is to hire a coach who can be on the teaching staff and have more time to connect with the students and talk up the football program. I thank Coach Pierson for his efforts.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

Good guy... Pierson. It looks like it was in his heart to help the program. He inherited a team that was at the point of disappearing; and gave it a chance to turn around. Given more time, I think that there would've been a full recovery. But, without income to cover basic costs such as apt rental, it's impossible to remain on a job like that for too long. At least he tried. Good luck in the future.