Tech High School wrestling coach Mark Mendoza's frustrations reached a boiling point after the Titans missed a dual meet at Tipton on Tuesday night because Indianapolis Public Schools officials failed to provide a bus for the trip.
Mendoza, who is in his ninth year at the school, apologized to Tipton officials with a post on indianamat.com, a leading website for amateur wrestling in the state. Tipton was planning to hold senior night ceremonies Tuesday.
Mendoza, who teaches English at Tech, also criticized IPS and Tech officials, saying it continues a pattern of neglecting the wrestling program. He asked other schools to donate singlets so the Titans do not have to wear Tech uniforms for the rest of this season.
"I am not going to represent a school, a district and an administration that doesn't care about us,'' Mendoza said in an interview later Wednesday. "If this would have been the first time something like this happened, that would be one thing. But it consistently happens.''
Mendoza said this was the first time the Titans actually missed a meet because of a transportation issue, but IPS officials have had to call in a driver at the last minute because they did not schedule one in advance on several occasions.
A bus was sitting in the Tech parking lot Tuesday, but Mendoza said it was to take the school's cheerleaders to Northwest High School for a boys basketball game.
"Last night, we fed right into the (IPS) stereotype,'' he said. "We didn't show up and we didn't have the decency to call.''
Mike Lucas, whose son Jacob wrestles for the Titans, said a bus failed to show up to take the team to a tournament at Plainfield earlier this season; parents and coaches drove the wrestlers to that meet. Parents were upset when no Tech administrators showed up for the Titans' own senior night earlier this month, he said.
"I was disappointed (by Tuesday's events), but not shocked by any means,'' said Lucas, a 1985 Tech graduate.
City athletic director Victor Bush said he was investigating the incident and isn't yet sure what happened, but he noted the meet was postponed because of snow last week before being rescheduled for Tuesday. Tech athletic director Keith Burke was out all last week while being treated for pneumonia, he said.
"We need to figure out where the ball was dropped so this type of incident never happens again,'' said Bush, adding he called Tipton officials and apologized.
Bush said he was disappointed by Mendoza's comments, noting the coach has never told him of his frustrations. IPS officials are constructing a new wrestling room at Tech as part of ongoing renovations and have purchased new mats, he said.
"He needs to speak to me about that,'' Bush said.
Tipton athletic director Kory Fernung said its wrestling team celebrated senior night with an intrasquad scrimmage instead. Fernung said he holds no hard feelings and expects Tipton to continue to play IPS teams in all sports.
"You can't fix (Tuesday)," he said. "Sitting around being mad and bitter over it does no one any good. You just get over it and move on.''
Mendoza said he's aware he might face some consequences for speaking out. The Titans have one of their best teams in recent years. Tech's Dominique Price is ranked fifth in the state at 112 pounds by indianamat.com; teammate Charlie McGinley is sixth at 119.
"They (Tech administrators) don't even watch us enough to know what is going on,'' he said. "If there's a consequence, I'm willing to accept it.''
Call Star reporter Michael Poin