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Posted on Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Willow Run basketball coach George Woods upset by mid-season firing

By Pete Cunningham


George Woods, center, addresses the Willow Run basketball team during a December tournament. Woods was recently fired.

Angela J. Cesere |

George Woods was fired from his position as the Willow Run High School boys basketball coach and he’s still not sure why. Especially confusing to Woods is why action was taken in the middle of the season.

“To do it in the middle of the season was disappointing and hurtful,” said Woods, who was fired shortly after the team’s loss to Ecorse on Jan. 20. “I thought I had taken the program in a different direction…it’s hurtful.”

Willow Run athletic director Von Acker said the team wasn't going "in a positive direction."

“He didn’t mesh with this group of kids," Acker said. "It was in the better interest of the team overall.”


George Woods, left, speaks with Justin Tillman during a Willow Run basketball practice last December. ( file photo)

Melanie Maxwell |

Acker said Woods’ full-time job with the U.S. Department of Defense contributed to his firing. Acker wanted the team to be able to practice immediately after school and not hanging around school for hours until practice began at 5 p.m.

“We needed to make some changes and he wasn’t available during times when he needed to be,” Acker said. “That’s part of it and because the kids were hanging out and different issues would arise.”

Acker also claims Woods didn’t get along well with the players and the community.

“It was an accumulation of things we needed to change and he couldn’t make those changes,” Acker said. “It’s one of those funny situations. I would give him a reference if he asked for it.”

Woods said practicing at a different time was never brought up to him. He doesn’t think any change could have been possible because the girls teams practices in Willow Run’s lone gymnasium immediately after school, and he wouldn’t want their practices ending after dark.

“I would never put the young ladies in a late practice,” Woods said. “The practice times, that’s just bogus. It makes no sense whatsoever.”

Woods said if practice time was an issue it’s something that should have been addressed at the beginning of the season.

“If that would have been identified to me at the beginning of the season, I would have made arrangements, or I would have stepped away and given the opportunity to someone else to take the position,” Woods said.

Woods’s former assistant, Anthony Davis, took over for Woods and practice has remained from 5-7 p.m.

Woods was also irked by the implication that he didn't mesh with the community and players, saying his methods have helped improve a community with a poor reputation.

Willow Run was given a top 100 sportsmanship award by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan prior to the season.

In his first season on the job (2009-10), all eight seniors on the team graduated and enrolled in college or prep school. That same year, the district was reported to have a 46.7-percent graduation rate.

Woods was 19-24 in his first two years at Willow Run and the team was 4-7 at the time of his release.

“It all comes down to how it will affect the kids? When your job is to prepare them to go out into the community, our job is to train, mentor and teach them the right way,” Woods said. “If they know you can get released and be fired for something -- and I still don’t know what I did, it doesn’t substantiate a firing -- what message does that send?”

Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

Can "willow run" please learn how to spell, write, and use proper grammar so that the district doesn't continue to appear so uneducated. Then, after learning how to spell, write and use proper grammar, learn to THINK!! Think about our youth and how to move them out of the poverty, crime, and depression they are living and learning in the Willow Run community!!


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Sorry, android phones. And I went to Pioneer and not Willow Run.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.



Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

The team is made up of children. You never let the children decide who should coach them. They have to learn to comply with the rules and structure that is in place. If not, then yes, you FIRE the team in the form of cutting those players that don't want to line up and fly right. The reality is the players are probably mad because they are losing. They are less likely to want to fight through and work extra hard when they are losing. It's rampant in this area where people are front runners, when things are going good, everyone is happy, when things go bad, instead of looking in the mirror and deciding what you can do better, people "cop-out" and start the blame game. Willow Run will continue to lose because if "meshing with the players" was the reason, they are letting the children raise the adults.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Yes losing played a part in the kids minds but when your down dont you call a timeout and adjust? Dont you try other kids on your bench? If your "best" players are not producing, dont you turn to someone else? I'm just saying to make a headline over this was quite overrated. I do agree though, if kids dont follow direction then send them flying! There are other players who will kill for those minutes on the court.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Well Stallion, I am close to the program, Like i said, dont take nothing away from the guy he is a very likeable person. Just he wasnt mixing the the children this year. I'm not pointing blame but what do you do? Fire the whole team? If this were a college or pro team none of this would be news. 2am is when i read this and decided to post.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

I don't know what is going here, but I saw Willow-Run play at Lincoln earlier this year. I saw a good team that played hard the entire the game. It was a good, fast, clean game. These kids played hard. Their guards, although small, were the best defensive guards I have seen in HS in a while. Like I said, I don't know what else is going on, but when you see a team play as hard and as fair as they did, to me that reflects on their coaching.

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Maybe it is the AD that needs to go....this school is going down just like the country.....why?


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 10:17 a.m.

ANY high school sports team has at least one assistant coach, where was that person? Was a study hall offered to these student athletes?


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 9:59 a.m.

Well, as a taxpayer to the Willow Run Schools, it seems to me to be another example of the power of the inner circle controlling everything. I'm so tired of seeing my tax money poured down the circling drain that is the Willow Run school District. And sorry to Coach Woods who tried to beat the system. Not in the inner circle? No job for you!


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:12 a.m.

Well since this was brought to the paper for all to see, Lets let it all hang out..... For the past 3 years the girls and boys have alternated practice times. So the comment about girls after dark is funny. Coach Woods is a professional guy, cant take that from him but if the kids and the coach are not clicking what do you do fire the team. The new coach does not have them playing "STREETBALL" they are still running the same thing as before. There were not any parents that complained to cause this firing. If your team is down dont you call a timeout? At halftime dont you suppose to make adjustments? Dont you suppose to care about the whole team and not just certain players? Dont stroke certain ego's and fuss and the others.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 9 p.m.

That was put bluntly by a true alumni. Dont you suppose to understand his concern?

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

And how is it that you have all this inside information that no one else has? At two in the morning.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 4:02 a.m.

whining parents seem to win out in these situations. A weak AD or weak Principal will always cave in to a parent who's son isn't getting playing time. I have seen this coach in action and he seems like a good man who knows the game. Shame on Willow Run, but then again we are talking about Willow Run aren't we. They dont seem to do many things the right way over there.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:30 a.m.

No parents were involved! Also you must have went to YPSI HIGH.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:44 a.m.

Not sure of the facts in this situation…... nonetheless, it's always difficult when a coach loses his/her job. The coach is the one who takes the fall….good or bad. When the team is losing the coach gets vilified, when the team is winning the coach gets all the praise. I was able to witness this coach Woods during this year's season and I will say he was always professional, which really helped the Willow Run reputation. Unlike the replacement coach who appears to be quite tempestuous, while validating the Willow Run rep. I don't think I like the "street ball" approach the new coach exhibits. I disagree with firing someone in the middle of a season. That decision was not the best and perhaps could have negatively impacted the team.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:28 a.m.

The "STREETBALL" approach is the same thing the kids have been running all season so how is it the new coach's approach. Have you been to a game since? Nothing against Mr. Woods but i do see the kids playing harder in games. The new coach is a former player from WILLOW RUN and his rep is wonderful.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:10 a.m.

This doesn't sound like the coach that was praised in a previous article . Those students should have been studying until it was time to practice. Everyone knows with girls and boys playing during the same season things,would be different. Former players and community members say this was a great coach!


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

I personally saw coach wood at almost if not every football game each friday. I saw a men committed to past and present students of Willow Run. I saw a men ask former students how they were doing at college. I saw a men that told students to pull there pants and be respectful of others and themselves. I understand the AD wanted to go in a different direction however there is classy way of doing things or a messy way. This has already started in a messy way. Also I think if your a supporter of Willow Run Atheletics you have to have realistic expections for what you have to work with in the community.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:22 a.m.

What was not done in a classy way? I doubt very seriously that the AD called to complain about this? Taking it to the papers to get HIS side out and not even come to the school and talk to the AD, Now thats class!

Get over it

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

Thanks for service in the department of defense, maybe the AD has a Freind who's son is not getting enough time on the court

Joe Kidd

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

This story leaves me with more questions than answers. I agree with the coach about the timing. If you have one gym and two teams (maybe four if you have junior varsity) how do you schedule practice and who has to practice later? And if the practice schedule has not changed, why did the AD mention that? Not getting along with players and families sounds like the real reason, but no news on that here.