Andrew Parrish Resigns as Saline Area Schools Athletic Director; Anna Britnell Named Interim AD

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Saline Athletic Director Andrew Parrish presents the SEC Red football trophy to football coach Joe Palka.

Andrew Parrish has resigned as Athletic Director of Saline Area Schools. Parrish's departure is the latest from a department that recently lost athletic coordinator Sam Hotopp, who resigned to take a job in Adrian schools, and athletic secretary Paula Alexis, who is retiring.

Anna Britnell,  the district's communications director, will serve as interim Athletic Director, according to Curt Ellis, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Saline Area Schools. In addition, Britnell will coordinate the hirings of an assistant athletic director and athletic secretary. Britnell will continue in her communications role.

The district hired Parrish in May of 2018. He said he was leaving a job that required him to spend too much time away from family.

"I have three kids under five years old who I never see. This job isn't going to get smaller. I also had a couple of private 'life is short' moments that have changed my perspective on things a little," said Parrish.

Parrish is a Saline High School graduate who earned a degree in business management from Miami University and a master's of science degree in sports administration from Georgia State University.  He had been Deputy Director for Athletics at Southern Utah University before returning to Saline, where he replaced interim AD Scott Theisen. At the time, Parrish was the fourth athletic director in three years. He was one of more than 30 applicants for the job.

Parrish said he worked with many great people in the Athletic Department. He praised the coaches and people he worked with. In particular, he was inspired by the student-athletes.

"Having this job through the pandemic and watching how resilient the kids were, it kept me going. I never heard a complaint from the kids about the masks or tests or rules," Parrish said.

He said he appreciated the culture in Saline Athletics.

"They do things at a high level here. And they do the right thing," Parrish said.

Coaches appreciated what Parrish brought to the department.

"Andrew is a true professional," said Joe Palka, coach of the varsity football team. "I always appreciated his calm demeanor and every decision he made was always with a program's best interest in mind. He was not afraid to do the tasks that are not glamorous to move our programs and make sure games and practices ran smoothly and successfully."

Leigh Ann Roehm, coach of the Saline varsity girls basketball team, said Parrish was hard-working, personable and even-keeled.

"Even with the stressors that come with his position, he always remained calm and was there to listen. He had excellent follow-through and always showed great support to coaches and athletes," Roehm said. "I am very grateful for what he brought to the department in his time here. He will be greatly missed."

Al Leslie is the head coach of the boys' track and field team and he coaches with the football team. Leslie said Parrish's work ethic was only matched by his enthusiasm for Saline athletics.

"Andrew was an amazing athletic director for Saline Area Schools. He was a great leader of the huge athletic department with lots of moving parts. On a daily basis, he had to interact with the community at large, 25+ head coaches, parents, athletes, training staff, grounds and school building crews, the Community Education staff, equipment vendors, and central administration. Oh and COVID protocols," Leslie said. "He was fair and always tried to look out for the department as a whole."

Parrish isn't the only big loss for the department.

Earlier in November, Athletic Coordinator Sam Hotopp resigned to take a job with Adrian Public School District where he's also going to be the varsity girls basketball coach. Hotopp was also coach of the Saline junior varsity girls program. Among many other duties, Hotopp handled the department's social media.

The department is also losing athletic secretary Paula Alexis, who is retiring. Alexis said she's had an illness in the family and she wants to help her son get moved into a new home.

"It's bittersweet. I love working with the kids and coaches, but it's time to move on," Alexis said.

Coaches commended Alexis's contribution to the athletic department.

"Paula is always pleasant, efficient and organized. She is such a positive person no matter what the circumstances," Palka said.

Roehm said Alexis was incredible in her role and she appreciated how responsive Alexis is.

"She may be the fastest responder to emails of anyone I have ever met. That just shows her diligence to help and serve each athletic program," Roehm said. "No matter what I needed help with, she was always there to help with a smile! We will miss her!"

The three high-profile departures from one of the highest-ranked athletic departments in Michigan raises eyebrows. Both Alexis and Parrish said the timing was coincidental.

Privately, one source close to the situation wondered why Saline Area Schools would let Hotopp walk away for a higher-paying job in a smaller district and only then create a new assistant AD job with a salary that might have kept Hotopp in the fold.

Athletic department employees sometimes face negativity or hostility from parents with "by proxy" ambition. The level of negativity increased as the athletic department dealt with the machinations coupled with the resignation of boys' varsity basketball coach Jake Fosdick. The search for Fosdick's successor, which resulted in the hiring of Michael Marek, offered no relief. 

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“Athletic department employees sometimes face negativity or hostility from parents with "by proxy" ambition. The level of negativity increased as the athletic department dealt with the machinations…” Wow. That entire statement is conjecture and inflammatory. Just more Tran trying to fan the already high flames of social discord in this community.🙄

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