Editorial: Explanation for Magic shortlist snub now required

By Dylan Thorne

1 comment

Sports management is not for the faint of heart.

When a team does well it's the players who get the credit and when a team falters it's coaches and administrators who cop the blame.

Disgruntled fans have to be placated. Governing boards have to be seen to take action.

It's difficult to sack a whole team and much easier to make a scapegoat of the coach and administrators.

Such sackings are routine at poor performing sporting franchises but the shock axing of Magic boss Sheryl Dawson this week smacks of something entirely different.

No one could describe the Magic franchise, under Dawson's leadership, as unsuccessful.

This is the side who broke the Australian stranglehold on the transtasman netball competition, by beating the Vixens 41-38 in Melbourne in July.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side became the first New Zealand team in the competition's five-year history to lift the trophy.

The crucial role Dawson played in guiding the franchise to become the first New Zealand team to win the championship was rewarded with Tauranga Excellence in Business Leadership Award for 2012.

Despite this success she missed out on top job when she had to reapply for the position under a new governing body.

The job went to 43-year-old Aucklander Tim Hamilton.

Two Tauranga board members, Shirley Baker and Paula Thompson, resigned in disgust over the decision and grassroots netball organisations, including Netball Rotorua, have already spoken out against the move.

The franchise appeared to be on a sound financial footing, with Dawson playing a lead role in securing a major sponsorship deal with Kia Motors.

Board chairman John Wiltshire says he can't comment on why Dawson, who has not yet publicly spoken about the issue, was passed over, other than to say Netball New Zealand had indicated it wanted a new job description for the role.

There were a number of good candidates and they could only pick one. This is where it gets murky.

How is it that Dawson, with all her success last season, didn't even make the final shortlist? It makes me wonder if there has been some form of break down between Dawson and the some members of the board.

A point not lost on Thompson, who has questioned the selection process.

Five people were shortlisted and interviewed by the board members who then filled out a sheet with their preferred candidate for the final shortlist.

"Sheryl was not in the cut, I find that extraordinary," she says.

So do I.

The fans and supporting organisations of the franchise deserve a proper explanation as to why such a successful, experienced leader has been given the cold shoulder.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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